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Senior Scholastic Art Portfolios and Artist Statements

Dalia Altubuh, Writer

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Art is a field of expression that has influenced the lives of countless. Scholastic, understanding this, created the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. This Alliance gives seniors the opportunity to enter a portfolio contest that can earn them some decent scholarship money: $10,000 for the 16 earning the Gold Metal for their portfolio, and $1,000 to the 30 earning Silver.

They have been around since 1923. Many well known names, such as Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, Andy Warhol, Stephen King, and more have actually entered the contests as teenagers and won. On the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards page has timeline of winners.

For their contest entry, the seniors must put together 8 pieces of art falling under what is known as a concentration, a theme or commonality, of their choice.

An art teacher at Bob Jones, Robin Lakso, stated, “Scholastic doesn’t ever have a theme. Students, like in AP, are encouraged to put in what you’re passionate about and what you’re working towards.

“For AP, 24 pieces is not uncommon for a semester long college course. 12 pieces of the portfolio must fall in a concentration. They choose their own, it has to be a very personal thing to them. The other 12 are in what is called a “breath”, and that means all the different things they can do.”

AP art students have an option to make the 8 made for the Scholastic competition part of their needed 12 for their concentration. Students are encouraged to participate in both.

“It’s hard,” explained Lasko, “Not a studying hard, but an emotional hard. It takes a lot out of the students to do what they do. You’re going against yourself.”

Now, here’s a word from a few of the artists themselves!

Brenna Kilpatrick has her AP portfolio centered around story telling. She explained, “I want to have things based on storytelling and illustration. The concentration for my portfolio has a storyline to it. I have the story of 8 different characters and their journey, from establishing where they came from to meeting each other. When you start with the first art classes, you’re really establishing how art works, especially the basics of things like how to measure and how to draw realistically. When you have a portfolio, though, you can do what you’re good at. I can be as broad as I want and I can still explore different mediums. You have to have an emotional bond with your art, or it’s not gonna turn out well.”

Courey Bratt, another AP art student, said, “My concentration has been so hard for me. My concentration is about growing up. Because I’m a senior, that has really been on my mind recently. My art is an exploration of the passage of time as well as memories and looking forwards to the future. You really have to dig deep: you have to find something meaningful to you and you have to stick to it. It really kinda pushes you to grow as an artist. 12 pieces is way more than it seems.”

Although you can only submit a portfolio as a senior, younger students are able to participate in the contest through submitting individual pieces (more than one is permitted but there is a $5 for each entry). Doing this, current Bob Jones senior, Elisa Castañeda, had actually claimed a Silver Medal for herself in last year’s competition. Her entry was a graphite and white charcoal drawing titled “More than a Pretty Picture.” It is a hyper-realistic, self representational portrait that depicted Castañeda in a picture frame with a fist holding personal mementos pushing through it.

“This picture shows that I am more than what seems to be on the surface and I think outside the box both figuratively and literally. I was surprised and excited when I heard about the national win.”

Castañeda also explained that she is excited about the work she has submitted this year. Her concentration revolves around American Immigration on the micro and macro scale. You can view her work here.

“I have some person stories about immigration pertaining to my parents and grandparents’ background and how the American Identity also belongs to them now. There is also the big picture: American Immigration over time as a whole  and how it’s changed. It’s really interesting and I’ve done a lot of research about it. It took a long time for me to decide what I wanted my portfolio to be about because I wanted it to be something I was passionate about. I didn’t decide what I wanted to do specifically until the Muslim ban of 2017 happened. I was so angry about everything, I thought I could turn this anger into art. I decided to talk about American Immigration, how the American Identity IS immigrants, and how immigrants are good for America because we come from all over the place. That’s what inspired me. ”

You can view and support the students and their art by coming to see their work on display in the art shows. The next art show is expected to be in May.

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Senior Scholastic Art Portfolios and Artist Statements