It’s been ten days since the 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Award winners were honored at Carnegie Hall, but we’re still celebrating their accomplishments. The two weeks following the Awards ceremony (which, by the way, you can watch [or re-watch] online) are some of my favorite: that’s when a selection of Award-winning art and writing is on display here in New York. Of course, living in this City means we’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by countless museums and galleries, but I can honestly say that the pieces featured in the ART. WRITE. NOW National Exhibition are some of the most extraordinary I’ve seen.
This year, more than 550 Award-winning pieces of art and writing by students in grades 7 – 12 are on display at TWO locations. In addition to film, animation, 2D and 3D artworks, and video games, exhibit-goers can watch video greetings from the students and read stunning literary works on e-readers. If you’re in New York, be sure to check out the exhibitions this week; they close on Saturday! If you’re not in New York, don’t worry– you can get a sneak peek of the work on display by checking out our Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Pinterest board, which features works by this year’s Portfolio Gold Medalists. Plus, this fall, these incredible works will travel to four different cities across the country as part of the ART. WRITE. NOW tour. (Cities to be announced soon!) Continue reading ART. WRITE. NOW: a stunning display of Award-winning works→
First of all, huge congratulations to the students who won National Medals in the 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards! As always, we were absolutely blown away by the caliber of the student talent, and this year’s festivities felt extra-special as they marked the Awards’ 90th anniversary. Needless to say, the celebration that took place in New York City this past weekend was nothing short of awesome. More than 800 teens and their families and teachers gathered at Carnegie Hall on Friday night. Outside, the Empire State Building was lit in gold to honor the student winners, while inside, they were congratulated via video by First Lady Michelle Obama, and in person by Sarah Jessica Parker and surprise guest Usher. After the seniors took their bow onstage, Terrance Hayes recognized this year’s National Student Poets, and designer Zac Posen was presented with the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award.
Of course, the star-studded event was amazing, but perhaps my favorite part of the evening was feeling the energy of all those talented teens gathered in one (massive) room; their enthusiasm was practically palpable. Tucked away backstage, I listened as Dick Robinson, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Scholastic, took his place at the lectern to explain the history of the Awards. His father established the program 90 years ago “to give those high school students who demonstrate superior talent and achievement in things of the spirit and of the mind at least a fraction of the honors and rewards accorded to their athletic classmates for demonstrating their bodily skills.” Not that anyone should have to choose between the arts and sports, but as someone who grew up writing and doing theater instead of playing volleyball and soccer like my friends, a chill went up my spine as the audience of creative teenagers burst into appreciative applause. I clapped from backstage, not only for this year’s Award winners, but also for all the student artists and writers out there who could relate to that sentiment… and selfishly, maybe a little for my teenage self.
Each year, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers awards teens from across the country. The National Awards winners travel to New York City for a breathtaking awards ceremony. (You can see some amazing examples of the award-winning work right here.) Alana Benoit from the Alliance is here with some news about this year’s event — which is also the 90th anniversary of the Awards!
For the first time ever, in celebration of our 90th Anniversary, theScholastic Art & Writing Awards will webcast the 2013 National Awards Ceremony LIVE from Carnegie Hall on May 31 at 6:00 p.m. EST/3:00 p.m. PST. That means YOU can join in! We’re working hard to make this event extra special for everyone, including those who are unable to be at Carnegie Hall. We’re broadcasting this event with all of you in mind!
On May 31, we will be joined by special guests Sarah Jessica Parker and Zac Posen to honor National Awards winners from across the country; recognizing their achievement and the commitment of teachers, friends and supporters that help make the Awards possible. We hope you’ll share this incredible moment with us by watching the Ceremony on our Webcast page.
You can also salute these talented students and engage your community around this one-time only event by hosting a Local Webcast Celebration! We’ve created a toolkit overflowing with fun tips and ideas to make planning a local event a success, no matter how large or small. If you have questions while reviewing this guide or organizing your event, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to tweet about the Awards and our 90th Anniversary Webcast using the hashtag #AWawards!
We’re continually inspired by the work we do and are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate the creative talents of young people.
We hope you’ll join us — from New York City with love!
The Alliance for Young Artist & Writers boasts an impressive list of alumni and supporters — including the award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat, who served as a judge in the 2012 Awards. The editor of the 2012 compilation of work from this year’s winners, Haris Durrani (The Best Teen Writing of 2012), had the chance to meet with Danticat recently. Over on the Alliance’s blog, Haris writes about the experience. It’s moving and wonderful and we wanted to cross-post it here, too. Enjoy, and remember to check out more from the Alliance here.
Ms. Danticat is not only a recipient of numerous writing awards, but a special friend of the Alliance. In 1997, she wrote a letter of encouragement to young writers now on display in our lobby at 557 Broadway —stop by to read it! This year, she served as a National Writing Juror for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. But what made my visit to Brooklyn more magical? Just a few weeks ago, Danticat generously agreed to write the Foreword for The Best Teen Writing of 2012,of which I am the Editor—and I couldn’t wait to meet her in person!
A few weeks ago, talented teens from across the country took over Carnegie Hall (we told you about it here and here and here!) to celebrate their Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Among the many celebrities there, one in particular did something pretty amazing for the teen winners: rapper MC Lars, who created and performed an incredible video celebrating the winners AND wrote them a special message.
He told them in a recent email:
“To all of the students who made it to Carnegie, it was great seeing and performing for you. It was awesome speaking with some of you and your creativity is inspirational and amazing. To those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a private link to my new video ‘Flow Like Poe’ which we premiered at the event. We made this video specifically for the event to honor of all of your awesome artistic achievements. We will be releasing it worldwide next week but we wanted to offer this sneak peak especially for you as a thank you for all of your hard work. High fives to all of you, have an awesome summer!
– MC LARS”
More than 500 kids from across the country descended upon Carnegie Hall to be honored by their teachers, parents and others. Kathy Bates hosted the evening, esteemed alums Philip Pearlstein and Joyce Maynard presented the top awards, and (my fave) singer-songwriter Mike Doughty closed the show with a simple and beautiful rendition of “I Hear the Bells.”
With a concert hall full of potential, hope and talent, it was a night I won’t soon forget.
And now a special treat from Associate Executive Director, Programs at the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers— and guest blogger– Bryan Doerries. Bryan embodies the Alliance and its mission like no one else. Plus, he always finds the best stories…
In the fall of 1941, an aspiring 16-year-old artist living in Pittsburg, PA, named Philip Pearlstein, submitted a small oil painting—entitled Merry-Go-Round—to a high school art competition called The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. His buddy, Andrew Warhola, also sent in a piece. Both boys won top honors that year. Pearlstein received a scholarship to attend the Carnegie Institute, and “Merry-Go-Round” even went on to be published in Life Magazine.
A few years later, after a brief stint sharing an eighth floor walk-up on St. Marks Place, the two artists parted ways. Warhola became Warhol, and Pearlstein became one the most distinguished painters of the 20th century. The rest is history.
Decades later, Pearlstein’s painting came back into his possession, returned by Scholastic Inc. CEO Dick Robinson. It now hangs prominently in Pearlstein’s studio loft, and will be on display this coming October at the Montclair Art Museum as part of a retrospective of Pearlstein’s work.
In an unpublished essay, Pearlstein spoke about the impact of winning a top Scholastic Art Award as a teenager:
“During the height of the Great Depression of the 1930s, I lived in Pittsburgh, with my father’s seven siblings and his mother. As there were only three bedrooms in this small five room house, I shared beds with my uncles who seemed to rotate their sleeping quarters. Someone was always sleeping on the living room sofa. It was in the living room on a folding card table that I began to make art, which subjected me to teasing from my uncles.
In the eleventh grade I won first prize for oil painting and first prize for watercolor painting in the National Scholastic High School Art Contest. The exhibition of the works accepted by the jury that year, 1941, was held first at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Then the exhibition was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and was written up in Life magazine. Suddenly I was over the rainbow. My two paintings were reproduced in full color in the foremost national publication of the time, and I had my moment of revenge against my uncles who had always made fun of my art making.”
Like a merry-go-round, Pearlstein’s career has come full-circle. Last night he received the first ever special alumna art award, presented by his friend and fellow artist Chuck Close. In the audience was another generation of artists, ready to follow his lead.
Last night I had the pleasure of going to the opening reception of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards “Portfolio Gold” exhibition at White Columns, a very prestigious gallery in New York. It was a pleasure for two reasons: 1) After weeks of looking at thumbnail images of all the artwork, I was able to see it in person, a very different– and better– experience. 2) I got to meet some of the young artists and writers! I was completely impressed by their confidence and social ease as they moved about the crowd– board members, art experts, even Joyce Maynard stopped by– receiving compliments and discussing their work. I was definitely not that cool and collected at age 18. Chances are I’m not now!
Two of the young men I spoke with are recipients of the Portfolio Gold Award for Photography. Rodney Jones, a high school senior from suburban Baltimore, uses an approach similar to that of his inspiration Richard Avedon (a previous Award-winner, coincidentally). Rodney has an arresting image in his head then tries to have his models (re)create it. His photographs are quite startling, and you can see him working out his ideas frame by frame. For his next project, Rodney is thinking about Barack Obama, race and voting. He’ll probably be doing it at Pratt Art Institute, where he was recently accepted.
Wilmer Wilson of Richmond, Virginia, on the other hand, didn’t consciously choose the issue of race when he began working on his portfolio. Says Wilmer: “I’ve had a strange experience with race…Art gives me the language to talk about something as intangible as that.” Wilmer prefers using film and a darkroom because he likes to touch his art as he makes it and can more easily see the difference ways he can manipulate the images. Wilmer will be going to Howard University in the fall.
Though Rodney and Wilmer both explore identity through their art, the two photographers have totally different styles. Take a look for yourself:
“I’m Not White 2” “Black and White 1” “Black and White 2” by Rodney Jones
“Fading to Black” “Hands” “Atavistic” by Wilmer Wilson