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Scholastic Art and Writing Awards


Allaina Wagner and Shirley Zhang Two State High students took an artful approach to getting to New York.


Allaina Wagner and Shirley Zhang recently won national Gold and Silver Awards, respectively, in the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition. On June 6, they will join other national medalists for a dinner and awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall.


Presented by the nonprofit organization Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have been honoring creative teenagers since 1923. Past award recipients have included Richard Avedon, Sylvia Path and Andy Warhol. In 2019, nearly 340,000 works of art and writing were submitted for state, regional and national recognition.


Wagner won for her sculpture “Cherry Pie.”


Winning the gold medal has somewhat quelled the voice in my head saying that becoming an artist, or having a career related to art, is unrealistic,” she wrote. “In a way, it has acted as a confirmation of my skills and has given me a small boost of confidence in my work. I think that winning the award has confirmed that sculpture is the medium for me and that I should continue to try new things within the medium in the future.”


Wagner won for her sculpture “Cherry Pie.” After transitioning from two-dimensional to three-dimensional art, she has explored different mediums of sculpture.


“In building my portfolio, I’ve experimented with clay, wood, textiles, plastic, and paper. As a major part of my portfolio, I’ve developed my concentration around the idea of how addiction affects people and society as a whole,” she wrote. “For these pieces, I incorporate everyday objects into my clay sculptures to convey the impact of different types of addiction. Overall, my art this year has developed into an exploration in understanding my peers and how the events in their lives impact them. I look to my classmates and friends for inspiration, and I utilize my own experiences combined with theirs as the foundation of my work.”

Zhang won for her painting “Immersion.”


“My art explores the aches and pains of growing up and the dual nature of being in-between. My art reflects the growing pains I feel being in-between, whether it's between adolescence and adulthood or Asian and American,” she wrote. “It is an honor to receive a national award for my art. Being recognized for my art validates my passion and authenticates the hard work I put in towards creating a fulfilling life as an artist. I am humbled to receive the Scholastic medal, and I hope that my recognition inspires others to create and show the world their creations.”


By Chris Rosenblum

Zhang won for her painting “Immersion.”