April 20, 2023

Creative expression

PA students win Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
by Nancy Hitchcock

Phillips Academy students demonstrated exceptional creativity in the 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing competition. Out of the more than 300,000 entries 12 Andover students placed nationally and regionally, with two of the 12 winning top medals.

Bianca Morales ’24 won a gold American Voices Medal—the highest award—in the personal essay and memoir category for her piece “On West 149th Street” and Heyon Choi ’25 won a silver American Visions Medal for her self-portrait My Four Seasons.

Morales, who had never submitted her writing to a competition before, says she writes from the heart and was ecstatic to first win the Gold Key award for Massachusetts and then the final national award. “To me it meant that people want to hear about these stories and about my home and things that are meaningful to me,” she says. “People are listening. Having that platform to share that story is really special. The only platform I’ve ever had before is English classes and this was a new and exciting experience.”

Instructor and Assistant Chair of English Kate McQuade, says of Morales: “I was lucky to meet Bianca at the start of her lower year, when she blew me away with her very first creative nonfiction essay for English 200. Bianca’s writing voice was already well established even then, distinguished by emotionally charged figurative language and surprising sensory details. I’m so thrilled her work is finally getting the wider audience it deserves—she is an incredible talent!”

Morales’ winning essay is about her life growing up in Harlem, New York, and her Puerto Rican culture. “It’s a very personal piece; I was able to put my soul into it,” she explains. “I think that’s good because we all have things we’ve been through and I feel like sharing builds community and makes us stronger.”

An excerpt from “On West 149th Street”:

I love on West 149th street
when there are fireworks that go on till 4 in the morning. Mami and every other adult hates them—never us kids, us selfish kids, us never-will-know-what-hard-work-is-like kids, us hyphen American kids, us kids who don't need to wake up early for the first of our three jobs. Us kids who appreciate the booms of explosions until we grow up....
Heyon Choi ’25, self-portrait My Four Seasons

Choi’s award-winning artwork was inspired by 16th century artist Guiseppe Arcimboldo. “My Four Seasons is a self-portrait that expresses who I am, what I value, and where I spend my time in terms of priorities and interests—in the four distinct seasons of the year,” she explains. “It is inspired by Arcimboldo’s 1573 oil painting Four Seasons ...and I have added a modern touch. I included contemporary human-made objects such as phones and school supplies. These additions pay homage to Arcimboldo—that his creativity is timeless and is applicable even in today’s far more advanced and complex world. Arcimboldo’s paintings are familiar to many people, and I enjoyed how I have been able to evoke a very different feeling from my artwork.”

Choi, who grew up in an artistic family in Seoul, South Korea, created her collage by first sketching in pencil and then adding layers using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Art and graphic design have been central to her Andover experience, including her work with The Phillipian. In the classroom, Choi especially appreciates the support she’s received from Instructor in art Casey Smith. “Mr. Smith has mentored me in so many ways, from helping me discover my artistic style and potential, introducing me to new media and techniques, to advising me on art and design activities on and off campus including art competitions,” says Choi. “Since meeting Mr. Smith, my passion and skills as an artist and graphic design have been taken to a new level.”

PA students who won regional and national honors are: Erin Kim ‘23, Marika Saito ‘25, Dorothy Swanson Blaker ‘24, Margaret Fulop ‘26, Ava Chen ‘24, Chelsea Hu ‘24, Yoojung Shin ‘25, Valencia Zhang ‘25, Lily Liu ‘26, and Michelle Chen.

Since meeting Mr. Smith, my passion and skills as an artist and graphic design have been taken to a new level.

Heyon Choi ’25

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers is the national nonprofit organization that presents the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards to creative teens (grades 7-12), recognizing them for their originality, technical skill, and emergence of personal vision or voice. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards—the nation’s longest-running, prestigious recognition program—includes in its notable alumni list John Lithgow, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, John Updike, Alan Arkin, Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and Amanda Gorman.

Categories: Arts

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