Ima Onyeama, an eight grader at Medlin Middle School in Northwest ISD, was inspired by Texas artist Delita Martin when she created a self portrait.

The artist who inspired later reached out and gave her words of encouragement.

“Delita Martin celebrates her African heritage a lot through her art,” Ima said. “Because I am also from African descent (parents are immigrants from Nigeria), I wanted to do the same kind of art.”

The piece went on to earn a Platinum Medal at Junior VASE, one of the highest honors that a Texas middle school artist can receive. However, that was just the beginning of the story for Ima and her artwork.

Adriane Lovern, Ima’s art teacher at Medlin, promised that if the piece earned a Platinum Medal, they would contact Martin and share the news. Lovern introduced Ima to Martin’s style. The piece received recognition at Junior VASE, so during the final week of last school year, Lovern and Ima sent a message to Martin. 

“I was crossing my fingers and just hoping that she would write back,” Lovern said. “So when she did write back during the summer, that was just amazing excitement. We were star struck! I immediately wrote to Ima and her parents and it was a big celebration.”

“It was so cool to hear from her!” Ima said. “That has never happened to me before. I like talking to other artists, but when a professional artist like Ms. Martin reached out to me, it just made me very happy.”

Martin’s motiving message to Ima? “I hope and pray you continue to create art because your story is so important and we need to see it.”

Creative Commons License

Noncommercial entities may republish our articles for free by following our guidelines. For commercial licensing, please email