Arguably, an artist’s most crucial natural talent is the desire to create. Sketching, shading, blending, molding—these are skills learned and developed over time. Some pick them up faster than others, but those with a passion for making others see the world through their lenses are the ones who stand apart.
To an artist, second only to creativity is the freedom to create, which is a quality Spring Branch ISD Memorial High School art teacher Elisa Barry admires about the Scholastic Art Awards competition.
“I call it ‘The Show’ because of the respect I have for this competition,” said Barry. “From start to finish, students have to make choices for their work—subject matter, media, size—and problem-solve throughout the entire artistic process. They also learn perseverance and grit.”
Barry’s students Cindy Xinyi Fu, Stephanie Han, and Marrisa Hines earned three of five 2022 American Visions Award nominations, a best-of-show distinction judged from a pool of over 6,600 entries received by HCDE, the regional sponsor of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
Presented by the nonprofit organization The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the country’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative students in grades 7–12. This year’s five American Visions Nominees, the highest regional honor, are as follows:
Gold Key Awards – Art, American Visions Nominees
- Adriana Oberto, 11th grade, Langham Creek High School, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Photography, “Altruistic Partner,” submitted through teacher Joshua Smith
- Katherine Xie, 9th grade, Glenda Dawson High School, Pearland ISD, Drawing & Illustration, “Rainy Day,” submitted through teacher Teri Zuteck
- Cindy Xinyi Fu, 11th grade, Memorial High School, Spring Branch ISD, Drawing & Illustration, “A Wrinkled Past,” submitted through teacher Elisa Barry
- Stephanie Han, 11th grade, Memorial High School, Spring Branch ISD, Painting, “Time Flys,” submitted through teacher Elisa Barry
- Marissa Hines, 12th grade, Memorial High School, Spring Branch ISD, Mixed Media, “Healing Wounds,” submitted through teacher Elisa Barry
Barry describes her students’ distinct artistic prowess with pride. One is meticulous and methodical, whose every line has a purpose; one imaginative, whose every brushstroke tells a story; and one a relentless worker, who pushes boundaries and never backs down from a challenge.
The three young creatives received rewards in categories that held true to their expressive styles. Fu was selected for her drawing, “A Wrinkled Past,” Han for her painting, “Time Flys,” and Hines for her mixed media piece, “Healing Wounds.” Each of their mediums, juxtaposition, and use of color and lighting were as unique as their messages, from honoring traditional Chinese culture to evoking nostalgia for a simpler time to inspiring hope for healing after trauma.
Hines, a Memorial High School senior, says she has been creating as long as she can remember and has honed her skills through consistent effort, hard work, and practice.
“I create art as an expression of myself and to communicate what I can’t communicate in words,” she said. “Art and creativity give my life meaning and purpose. I’m very honored to receive this award and very grateful that I was chosen.”
Glenda Dawson High School (Pearland ISD) freshman Katherine Xie—a two-time American Visions Award Nominee and this year’s youngest recipient—says art is her expressive outlet. She enjoys seeing her ideas come to life. While she “does not want to expect anything,” she shares that receiving this nomination fuels her passion for taking her art to the next level.
In her drawing, “Rainy Day,” which pictures a young girl wearing a mask and staring out a rain-streaked window, Xie aimed to grasp the loneliness felt by many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I hope to show others that they’re not alone,” she said.
Just as Xie creates solidarity through her strikingly realistic illustrations, Langham Creek High School junior Adriana Oberto finds unity through her camera lens. In the photo that earned her nomination, a “happy accident” result of double-exposure film, she has captured a caring moment between two close friends.
“I wanted to reflect that in the name, which is why I chose “Altruistic Partner,” she said.
The young photographer admits she is still searching for a central theme for her work and says she is “quite emotional” to receive this award and feels driven to better her skills.
Since the program’s inception in 1923, the awards have fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students, including renowned alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields, including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Stephen King, and Robert Redford. More recently, Richard Linklater, Zac Posen, Lena Dunham, and Amanda Gorman, who made international headlines earlier last year by becoming the youngest known U.S. presidential inaugural poet at the age of 22.
An award signifies to parents, teachers, the community, and colleges that a student is an accomplished artist or writer and offers creative teens the opportunity to earn recognition, exhibition, publication, and up to $10,000 in scholarships. Works that receive Gold Key recognition at the regional level are automatically submitted for national adjudication.
HCDE will announce the regional Scholastic Writing Award recipients at the end of the month.
The National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Medalists will be announced on March 16, 2022. Gold Medalists and most scholarship recipients will be invited to attend the annual National Events week of celebration in New York City.
For the complete list of 2022 regional awardees, updates, and more information about the regional awards, please visit hcde-texas.org/scholastic-awards.