The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Names the 2021 National Medalists and Tschabalala Self as Alumni Achievement Award Recipient

Contact: Allyson Barkan, abarkan@scholastic.com

The Program Today Awards National Medals to More Than 1,700 Students Nationwide, Including 16 High School Seniors Set to Receive Awards’ Highest Honor and $10,000 Scholarship

NEW YORK, NY – March 17, 2021 – Today, the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers announced the National Medalists of the 98th annual 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards—the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for young artists and writers in grades 7–12—and named painter Tschabalala Self as this year’s Alumni Achievement Award recipient. This annual accolade is given to esteemed alumni whose innovative careers have influenced their industries and who credit their first acknowledgement in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards as a pivotal moment in their teenage years, providing confidence and encouragement to explore the arts and beyond. Other distinguished alumni of the Awards include Andy Warhol, Joyce Carol Oates, Kay WalkingStick, and Charles White.

“It’s an honor to accept the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ Alumni Achievement Award,” said Self. “The Scholastic Art & Writing Award I received in 2008 motivated me to pursue my passion, and set me on the path to becoming the artist I am today. Congratulations to all of the incredibly talented students who received recognition this year, and I hope to be able to serve as an example to these student artists as they explore their unique creative gifts and begin their lifelong journey of expressing themselves artistically.”

A graduate of Bard College and the Yale School of Art, Tschabalala Self received a Scholastic Art Award in 2008. She now lives and works as a painter in New York and New Haven, CT. Through her painting, she explores the emotional, physical, and psychological impact of the Black female body as icon, and is primarily devoted to examining the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality. Self’s work belongs to prominent collections including The Art Institute of Chicago; Birmingham Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Bunker Artspace; California African American Museum; Emdash Foundation; Hammer Museum; ICA Boston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Perez Art Museum Miami; Pinakothek der Moderne; Rubell Family Collection; Studio Museum in Harlem; and Yuz Museum. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and can be seen in the exhibition By My Self at the Baltimore Museum of Art beginning March 28, 2021.

Among the more than 1,700 students who today received news of their recognition at the national level of the Awards program, sixteen recipients earned the program’s highest honor, the Gold Medal Portfolio Award, which includes $10,000 scholarships. These students were selected from among the nearly 2,000 works that received National Medals, and among the 15,000 works that were awarded regionally with Gold Keys. The 2021 Gold Medal Portfolio Recipients are:


Gold Portfolios, Art:

  • Brianna Blue, Brooklyn, NY
  • Maximo Guerra, Miami, FL
  • Amellia Hausmann, Memphis, TN
  • Helena Hockertz, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
  • Myah Jackson-Solomon, Towson, MD
  • Alyvia Luong, Fort Wayne, IN
  • Hailey Petersen, Golden Valley, MN
  • Nathan Yang, Los Angeles, CA


Gold Portfolios, Writing:

  • Caroline Dinh, Rockville, MD
  • Grace Gomez-Palacio, Columbia, MO
  • Yasmeen Jaaber, Chesterfield, VA
  • Tyler Kellogg, Greenville, SC
  • Keerthi Lakshmanan, Cupertino, CA
  • Justin Li, Basking Ridge, NJ
  • Sylvia Nicholas-Patterson, Lakeland, FL
  • Esther Sun, Los Gatos, CA

Now in its 98th year, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for young artists and writers in grades 7–12. The Awards serve as a launch pad for furthering students’ future success by providing them with access to scholarship programs and workshops, as well as the ability to have their work published and displayed in regional and national exhibitions. To learn more, and to find a complete list of the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Medalists, visit: artandwriting.org.

Chris Wisniewski, Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, said: “The past twelve months have presented all of us—including our country’s teens—with unprecedented challenges. The extraordinary young people recognized in this year’s Scholastic Awards have crafted fresh, original work that grapples with the pandemic, racial and social justice, climate change, and more while also mining personal stories of triumph, loss, heartbreak, and growth. The National Medalists have blown us away with their ability to express themselves through inspired and inspiring art and writing; now more than ever, we need to hear the voices of these future leaders.”

This year, nearly 230,000 works were entered into the Awards by students from every state in the nation for adjudication. Students had the opportunity to enter any of the Awards’ 28 categories—including short story, fashion design, photography, memoir, printmaking, poetry, and novel writing—as well as a variety of sponsored award scholarships. The 2021 Direct Scholarships include:

  • The Best-in-Grade Award: Underwritten by Bloomberg Philanthropies, this Award provides $500 scholarships to 24 Gold Medal recipients (two artists and two writers per grades 7-12).
  • Civic Expression Award: Underwritten by The Maurice R. Robinson Fund, this award provides $1,000 scholarships for original works of art or writing that promote responsible civic life. The six recipients are: Lina Eid, New York, NY; Drew France, Livingston, NJ; Dorianne Hines, Jackson, MS; Jennifer Huang, Lincolnshire, IL; Miguel Rincon, West Roxbury, MA; and Jiahe Wang, New York, NY.
  • The Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoon: Underwritten by The Herb Block Foundation, the Editorial Cartoon category celebrates the legacy of four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Herb Block and his remarkable contribution to American history and free expression. The three teen artists who receive $1,000 scholarships for their outstanding drawings, illustrations, or animations offering commentary on current events or political topics are: Ava Fong, Princeton, NJ; Abby Haywood, Kentwood, MI; and Emily Tan, San Jose, CA.
  • The New York Life Award: Underwritten by New York Life Foundation, this award provides six scholarships of $1,000 each to students whose work explores personal grief, loss, and bereavement, and exemplifies how the arts can act as a positive outlet to cope with these issues. This year’s recipients are: La’Zavia Joseph, Houston, TX; Madhalasa Iyer, Frisco, TX; Ilhana Kisija, Skokie, IL; Kale Kurtz, Harrisburg, PA; Alena Suleiman, San Jose, CA; and Yuejun Wang, Powell, O
  • One Earth Award: Underwritten by the Salamander Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation and the One Earth Fund, this award provides four students with $1,000 scholarships for creative works that encourage the awareness of, and meaningful responses to, pressing issues of human-caused climate change. This year’s recipients are: Lauren Hilow, Asheville, NC; Aniela Holtrop, Freeport, ME; Joonsung Kim, Concord, NH; and Ellen Pan, McLean, VA.
  • Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction & Fantasy: Underwritten by the Ray Bradbury Foundation, this award offers $1,000 scholarships to six students whose writing uses supernatural, magical, futuristic, scientific, and technological themes as key elements of the narrative. This year’s recipients are: Samuel Franklin, New York, NY; James Lee, Northbrook, IL; Elena Luo, Flemington, NJ; Mia Naccarato, Wexford, PA; Chinonye Omeirondi, Cypress, CA; and Sofia Schaffer, New Haven, CT.
  • Additional awards and scholarships for students are made possible through the support of Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies, Command Companies, Jay Pritzker Foundation, Jill and Peter Kraus, The Maurice R. Robinson Fund, The New York Times, Quad/the Quadracci family, The Roome Fund, and Salesforce.


Judging Criteria

All art and writing submissions are blindly judged based on the same three criteria that have been in place since the program’s founding: originality, technical skill, and emergence of personal vision or voice. Student works are first adjudicated regionally through more than 100 local Affiliates of the Alliance. Students receiving Gold Keys, Silver Keys, Honorable Mentions, or American Visions & Voices Nominations are celebrated within their communities through exhibitions and ceremonies. Gold Key works are then judged nationally by an impressive panel of creative-industry experts to receive Gold, Silver, American Visions & Voices, and Gold or Silver with Distinction Portfolio Medals.

About the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and are made possible through the generosity of Scholastic Inc., The Maurice R. Robinson Fund, New York Life Foundation, Command Companies, The New York Times, The Herb Block Foundation, Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies, Quad, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ray Bradbury Foundation, Salesforce, Garcia Family Foundation, Lindenmeyr, the Salamander Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation, Golden Artist Colors, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and numerous other individual, foundation, and corporate funders; and, for the National Student Poets Program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Hearthland Foundation, the Poetry Foundation, and Academy of American Poets.

For more information about the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, visit artandwriting.org. Additional details about the Awards can be found in the Scholastic media room: http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/artandwriting.

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headshot of TSCHABALALA SELF