The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program celebrates its 90th birthday this year. The goal, to “have inspired bold ideas in creative teens,” has been achieved in great measure due to the integrity of the competition which applies three criteria: Blind judging; freedom of expression; and originality and technical ability. Some inspiration doubtless springs from the successes of famous entrants, such as historian Ken Burns, artist Andy Warhol and actor Robert Redford.
More than 1,800 entries in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, or mixed media were received in this year’s contest, with 349 individual pieces awarded the top honor of a Gold Key. Each Gold Key work has been forwarded to the national level and the artists await the judges’ decisions to be announced in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Meanwhile, the Central Library has mounted a month-long exhibition of several hundred student creations.
Pamela Farrell, supervisor of arts education, describes art programs in the schools as “amazing” at all grade levels, and attributes that to the support provided by teachers and administrators and parents. Referring to the Scholastic Arts Awards which she has been running locally for several years, Farrell said, “We embrace this program; it is great for students and teachers.”
Students interviewed agreed that the online submission process was simple and that any student interested in art should enter. Beyond that consensus, personal views differed. Yorktown freshman Madeline Reicherter notes that the competition complemented her studies in photography class and, besides, “you have nothing to lose.”
Graduating Wakefield senior Marina Ralph, invited to national ceremonies in New York City last year, looks on the 2014 competition as a finale of sorts. She had taken a full range of art courses offered in the Arlington schools and her main impression is one of opportunities provided by “some of the most incredible teachers I ever have had.”