San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Vernon and Vontae Davis Family Foundation, will host the San Francisco Unified School District’s Young at Art celebration at the de Young Museum 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive on Friday, May 18 at 6 p.m. Davis will also present Lowell High School student Niyjale Cummings with a Vernon Davis Visual Arts Scholarship. The scholarship provides tuition support to a San Francisco youth interested in pursuing a career in the visual arts at the university level.
“Niyjale is super talented and he’ll go far if he pursues art for a living,” says Davis. “We come from similar backgrounds growing up in the inner-city, but the difference between us is that I had to wait until college to discover art, but Niyjale is doing art right now. So I’m glad to see him express himself creatively and I hope he’ll continue to grow as an artist,” says Davis.
Faced with difficult childhood challenges, Niyjale has been open about having to change homes and migrate to different cities. The constant disruptions empowered him to learn to live in different environments and become an innovator. During this time, Niyjale also became a self-proclaimed recluse. Then in tenth grade, his father passed away and he would find solace in art when a teacher encouraged him to apply for a paid internship the program Young Artist at Work at the Bay area’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It was there that Niyjale says he truly discovered art as his calling.
Niyjale explains, “Art has given me self-esteem. I know that I can do something and do it well and that it is worthy of appreciation. The more I manipulate objects and give them my attention, the easier it becomes for me to communicate with others and feel comfortable.”
At a time when so many students are having to put their dreams of a college education on hold due to skyrocketing costs and a lack of resources, Mr. Davis’ scholarship is especially timely,” said San Francisco Arts Commission Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. “I hope his generosity inspires others to help students with their significant financial needs and achieve their educational goals.”
Niyjale plans to attend the Academy of Art University in the fall.