“An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.” – Louise Bourgeois, Artist
The Artis The Artist Foundation was founded in memory of Artis James Prestidge, an accomplished young artist whose future as an artist was shortened due to his untimely death.
The Artis the Artist Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization formed to provide college scholarships and support for students who are furthering their education in The Arts. The Arts include Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Musical and Vocal Arts, Animation and Design.
Artis James “A.J.” Prestidge was born in Fort Worth, Texas on March 16, 1988. He grew up in Arlington, Texas where he graduated from Mansfield Timberview High School and went on to major in Art at Texas Tech University. He loved to laugh, read, travel, play video games, and paint. His best friend and partner in crime was his sister, Marie. Artis loved all kinds of music, from hard rock to rap, jazz and contemporary Christian. His favorite video game was Grand Theft Auto, and his favorite movie was Pulp Fiction. He loved to eat seafood and drink his famous sweet, iced tea.
Artis was a three-year participant of the Alpha Ambassador Club (AAC) advanced college preparatory program, sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Nu Pi Lambda Graduate Chapter, where he was involved in many community activities. Artis’ involvement in this organization developed his passion to work with various volunteer organizations and political campaigns and to befriend those who were disenfranchised or ostracized.
Already a multi-talented young man, being a “lefty” only added to A.J.’s divine destiny. He played the keyboard, guitar, xylophone and drums. Artis started painting in the 8th grade and really developed his talent under the leadership of his favorite teacher, Mr. David Mason. After the death of his beloved grandfather, Artis Ray Prestidge, Sr., A.J. began to express himself by painting, often all night long.
Any feelings that he could not express in words came out on the canvas. Along with his many competitions, his artwork was also displayed during a Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra performance in 2007. His primary artistic influence was the artist Jackson Pollock, an American painter and abstract expressionist.
As a Christian, Artis lived all the years ordained for him, and he left many tangible gifts to those who loved him. In his own words Artis said, “I am grateful, and I have faith that He will work things out!”
Artis the artist was a fun loving, gifted, talented, and kind soul whose legacy will live on through the artistic expression of each of the scholarship recipients who receive the support they need to cultivate their artistic talents in his name.
Rest in heaven, A.J.
– John 3:16
We envision a world where every artist sees value in their creativity, receives support to pursue higher education, and a community that embraces their uniqueness.
Our mission is to enable college-bound artists to continue their passion for visual, performing, music and literary arts through higher education, elevated techniques, and personal development.
We accomplish this mission through two strategic objectives:
The Arts help students express their emotions and build self-esteem.
The Arts create dialog, understanding, and a different view of our surroundings.
The Arts promote diversity and cultural education.
The Arts are healing to the human spirit since the history begin.
In 2022, ATA celebrates 10 years of awarding scholarships to graduating high school artists.
In May 2012, the Artis the Artist Foundation awarded its first $500 scholarship in memory of Artis James (A.J.) at the annual Mansfield ISD scholarship breakfast. Although various businesses, individuals and organizations in the local community awarded scholarships from $500 to $5,000 to the graduating seniors recognized at this event, the Artis the Artist Foundation scholarship was unique in that it was specifically geared towards supporting a senior going on to pursue the arts in college – a rarity in the scholarship world today.
The first ever recipient of an ATA Foundation scholarship, Bryan Jordan III, was selected from among the pool of scholarship applicants, which competed for the funds based on academic performance, leadership, community involvement, and an essay explaining their love for art and how it had impacted their lives.
The foundation’s founder, Arlener Poydras, met Bryan for the first time at the scholarship breakfast and found the young man to be smart, chatty, and very excited that “an artist” was actually receiving a scholarship. He shared with Poydras his passion for art and how the arts were his way of expressing himself and showing off his unique skills. Further, he shared that there were not many organizations that offered scholarships to artists; scholarship opportunities athletes and straight-A students were plentiful, but they were scarce for artists. Poydras’ conversation with Bryan fueled her passion to continue to provide scholarships for young artists to pursue their artistic dreams in college.
After a few years, the ATA Foundation branched out and began providing scholarships to students from various schools in the Arlington-Dallas-Fort Worth area. After 10 years of providing essential support to young artists, the faces have changed but the personalities, passion for art, and unique ability to “create” remains consistent among all of the students.
With the support of generous donors and patrons participating in our fundraising efforts, the dollar amount of the scholarships has increased from $500 to $1,000, and then to $2,000 in 2018. Since 2012, the Artis the Artist Foundation has provided twenty-nine scholarships to artists.
All of the love and energy that I would have poured into my son AJ, I now pour into this Foundation and other young artists. – Arlener Steels-Poydras, AJ’s Mom
I established the Artis the Artist Foundation in memory of my beloved son Artis James (AJ), who was an aspiring visual artist. When his life in this world came to an end on February 20, 2012, I was in distress over such a promising career that would never come to full fruition because his extraordinary talent expressed through his unique artistic voice had been silenced.
While searching for answers, I was prompted to purchase the domain name artis-the-artist.com. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time, but I knew that this was an action I needed to take – one of many steps in a series of actions to preserve my talented son’s legacy. Finally, it became clear to me how I would keep his memory alive through the generations: I would establish the Artis the Artist Foundation, which would award scholarships to young artists attending college to study The Arts.
The first $500 scholarship was awarded in AJ’s name to a graduating senior from his high school in May 2012. A year later, the Artis the Artist Foundation was officially formed.
Over the years of meeting each scholarship recipient, I have discovered that artists have similar personalities, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. They simply view the world through a different lens. It is this population of young people that I know my son would have wanted me to provide support for in his name, for although artists are often not highly regarded, they are so essential.
Artists add richness, color and vibrancy to the world. They help us understand our emotions at a deeper level, expose us to new ideas, help us see ordinary issues through a different lens and through unusual and unique perspectives, and give us the opportunity to engage in thoughtfulness, introspection and self-awareness.
Supporting young artists is an investment that makes the world more interesting and brings us all together in wonder. Every one of them deserves a chance to develop their talents and bring them to full fruition. This is why I will diligently continue to lead the charge to support the dreams and futures of young artists in underserved neighborhoods as they pursue The Arts in higher education.
I encourage you to partner with our efforts to nurture these often overlooked talented young people who make our world a better, more beautiful place to enjoy.
To learn more about Arlener Poydras, visit arlenerpoydras.com.