FWMoA Education intern and multiple Scholastic Art Award recipient Bayan Yunis reflects on her Scholastic Art & Writing Awards journey, from her first submission in eighth grade that did not receive an award to her now numerous accolades, including the Harry and Betty Quadracci Art Portfolio Award, in photography as a senior at Carroll High School this year.
I first entered the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in eighth grade with a small, handbuilt acorn teapot. On the day results were released, my middle school art teacher went through great lengths to avoid me. When I finally cornered her, I learned that I was the only one of her students who did not receive recognition. I was devastated, and vowed to never enter into the Scholastic Awards again.
During my freshman year of high school, my photography teacher, Nicole Croy, encouraged everyone to enter one piece. Reluctantly, I complied and submitted a double exposure that I made in the darkroom. When the results were released I found that, once again, I didn’t win anything, which proved to me that I should’ve stuck to my vow.
After my freshman year, however, I found more luck and success in my entries as I established a photography style. By experimenting with various editing methods on Adobe Photoshop, I created a cohesive portfolio that conceptualized my social and identity struggles through intensive layering. I won my first two regional gold keys my sophomore year, left, one of which received a national Gold Medal.
Since my sophomore year, I have a total of fourteen regional gold keys, two national Gold Medals, two national Silver Medals, and a national Gold Portfolio Award.
The Awards taught me that persistence is key. It’s important to not get discouraged by the no’s that one gets because without those no’s, you may miss the yes’s needed to advance.
The Awards gave me the confidence to show my work outside of the classroom. Thanks to that initial boost, I’ve continued to submit my work, gaining numerous resources and opportunities that have and will help me advance my future artistic career.
Despite receiving a national Gold Medal in an earlier award season, this year was the first that I attended the National Awards Ceremony in New York City at Carnegie Hall. Although I missed the entire first day because of transportation issues and was welcomed by the worst air quality in the world, the events that the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers put together was worth the stress and respiratory issues. Scholarship winners were invited to a breakfast at the Redeye Grill, which served a buffet of New York classics like lox bagels and bougie breakfast foods. After a few hours the awards ceremony took place and the Gold Portfolio recipients and National Poets were taken backstage to painstakingly pose for pictures. Overall, I enjoyed the trip and especially loved exploring Manhattan during the down time between events. The highlight of the trip was being chased by Minnie Mouse out of Times Square for two blocks, but I wouldn’t wish that for anyone visiting.
If you’re considering submitting your work to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, do it. The Awards opens up numerous opportunities, from winning scholarships to being on panel discussions and just gaining exposure. (Winning also serves as a great confidence booster.) One of the most important things for an artist’s success is exposure, and the Awards is a great first step. If you’re unsure if you’ll win anything, submit your work anyways because you may be surprised by what the judges will like…
The 2024 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are now open for creative artists and writers, age 13-18, to enter their work in a variety of categories.