Meeting the Next Generation of Artists and Writers in New York

Katy Thompson, Children’s Education Associate

Stephen King. Truman Capote. Sylvia Plath. Marc Brown. These are all famous authors, so what are they doing on an art museum blog? Okay, fine, we’ll talk artists. Andy Warhol. Cy Twombly. Red Grooms. Ezra Jack Keats. Do you know what these four writers and four artists have in common?

They are all Scholastic Art and Writing Alumni!

National Award recipients stand in front of Robert Indiana's HOPE sculpture in New York.
Some of our National Art and Writing Medalists in front of the HOPE sculpture by Robert Indiana in New York. Photograph courtesy of Alyssa Dumire.

Earlier this June, the Education Department traveled to New York to attend the Scholastic Affiliate Leadership Conference and celebrate our regional Gold Key winners who were awarded National Medals at Carnegie Hall in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition.

Unfamiliar with the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards? You probably attended a Scholastic Book Fair, maybe met Clifford the Big Red Dog or Arthur, as an elementary student. As a middle or high school student, however, you could have entered their creative arts competition. Started over 95 years ago by founder Maurice R. Robinson, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards seeks to recognize creative students for their accomplishments just as athletic students are and, in doing so, foster the next generation of great American artists and writers. Judged on their originality, personal vision and voice, and technical skill students are encouraged to enter any piece of art or writing as the awards are censorship free and judging is blind. Students submit their work to regional affiliates; here, it is Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio. If they receive the top prize, a Gold Key, their work is sent to New York for national judging. If they receive a Gold Key at nationals then they are invited to New York to be recognized at Carnegie Hall with the other Gold Key medalists from around the country. Our own Alyssa Dumire, Director of Children’s Education, received a Scholastic Gold Key when she was in high school! In addition to recognition, student works are exhibited at museums and galleries affiliated with the program. Medalists also become eligible for special awards and scholarships and have opportunities to participate in summer workshops.

As affiliates, the yearly conference is a space to gather and see how other affiliates reach out to schools, organize their regional ceremonies, exhibit their student works, and recognize their winners through scholarship opportunities and special awards. Many affiliates now partner with local colleges to offer scholarships to Scholastic winners or partner with local businesses to offer purchase awards. Artists and writers find recognition not from a trophy, after all, but from having their work either displayed or published for the public to interact with or read.

In addition to viewing the Scholastic student exhibition at Pratt and Parson’s (and keeping a sharp eye out for any Tim Gunn or Project Runway sightings) we also immersed ourselves in some of the alumni art found at MoMA, the Met, and other museums including the Whitney, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Frick Collection. As museum educators, we love snooping around other museum learning spaces and following school tours (thanks MoMA!) to see how other museums showcase their collections to student groups. Other important sights were seen and photographed, of course, like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Flatiron Building. The High Line was walked and a slice of New York style pizza was had. We sneezed our way through Central Park and stopped at Shake Shack, just so we could say we did.

Now back in Fort Wayne, we are readying ourselves for The Next Generation of Great American Artists and Writers 2019! The students who will join Richard Avedon, Zac Posen, Langston Hughes, and Joyce Carol Oates in being recognized for their creative accomplishments.

Want to enter the competition for a chance to join us in New York next year? See Scholastic for details!

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