Senior Thomas de la Vega: Featured Ceramics Artist

Saige Santora


Thomas De La Vega was selected by ceramics teacher Cameron Petke for the October 2016 edition of featured artist. De La Vega, currently a senior, is originally from Westchester, New York, but moved to Urbana when he was in the fourth grade. De La Vega runs on the Cross Country Team. He took Petke’s ceramics class by chance when he dropped his Spanish course sophomore year and has been in his class every semester since.

Coming from Westchester, New York, De La Vega’s life changed drastically for the new fourth grader. Where he grew up it was not a community similar to Urbana. He said, “It was like a suburb of New York, everyone was Caucasian with little ethnic diversity. We had to drive to the grocery store, there’s a big difference attitude wise, and it was all one group who all think the same thing,” he said. Westchester was very clique oriented, he said comparing it to a community where the majority rules just as their opinion does too.

De La Vega was happily surprised to hear Petke gave his name for the featured artist column. He said, “Really good, I mean it’s kinda what I want to do.” De La Vega’s goal for this year is to make art and get accepted into Ohio State or Maryland where he plans to major in an art program. As a college student he sees himself continuing art but decided to leave cross country as strictly a high school memory. While Petke is the reason he wants to continue in art or ceramics in college, he cannot hide his love of flying.

De La Vega’s plan after high school involves pursuing his passion of becoming a pilot. Becoming a pilot means he needs at least a Bachelor’s degree. It was during his middle school years when De La Vega first realized his dream of flying planes. It started when he saw a video on You tube, which prompted him to ask his dad if he could take him to the airport for a flight lesson as his Christmas present at Frederick Municipal Airport. The flight lesson contained an introduction to flying a plane, taking off into the air, flying around, and then returning to the airport. De La Vega was allowed into the cockpit where he also learned all the in’s and out’s essential to the planes take off and touchdown.

The plane was a single engine with four seats, all in all a magnificent machine. In De La Vega’s first couple of years as a pilot he would make about as much as a McDonald’s manager, a total of forty-thousand dollars a year. When questioned how he felt about making so little money, he says “It’s not for the money but because I like being in air planes and flying.”

Continuing De La Vega’s inspiration for continuing art in college, Petke said “The reason I chose Thomas was because he was my SSL last year and independently without anyone telling him started working on his AP Portfolio, he taught himself so much on the wheel.” By the time he’s done with his AP Portfolio it will look professional. Petke has also been avid in encouraging De La Vega to keep ceramics as a hobby if he does not wish to continue it as his life’s profession and that is exactly what he plans to do.