Scholastic Awards give artists chance to shine

Meghan Wysocki '22, Copy Editor

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Gold Key. Gold Keys are only awarded to works showing great skill and are then judged nationally by an impressive panel of creative–industry experts to receive National Medals, including Gold Medals, Silver Medals, American Voices & Visions Medals. Photo from Jessie Jacobson.

For athletes, it might be the championship game. For performing arts students, it might be getting the lead in the musical or the solo in the show. But for South’s visual art and creative writing students, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are their time to shine.
Art teacher Amber Mades, who has helped her students through the submission process for nine years, describes the competition as “the Junior Olympics of art,” recognizing students with superior artistic talent at both the regional (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties) and national level.
“Part of being an artist is putting your work in front of others to view,” Mades said. “This competition is very prestigious, and it is an honor for a student to be a part of it. Rewards include bragging rights, a certificate, a ceremony held at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the artwork being matted and displayed at the College for Creative Studies.”
Megan Rabaut ’21, who won both a Gold and Silver Key for her work in photography, said the benefits extend beyond the recognition.
“(Receiving an) award makes you feel good and can motivate you to want to create more and go into something related to art,” Rabaut said. “You can also win money to certain local businesses that want to fund your work, and it looks good on college applications to be well-rounded, both creatively and intellectually.”
According to the competition’s website, students can submit pieces in 29 categories, ranging from science fiction to architecture to printmaking. The awards are blind-judged, and those awarded regional Gold Keys are able to have their work judged at the national level. AP Drawing and Painting student Mary Jordan ’20, who submitted her senior portfolio titled, “A True Friendship,” earned a Silver Key.
“In my portfolio, I was trying to display the companionship between people and their pets,” Jordan said. “There are so many different kinds of pets, but owners always seem to have an unbreakable bond and friendship with them. I love to draw animals, especially dogs, so I knew from the beginning that I wanted the portfolio to be centered around them.”
As a district art teacher, Mades said she stresses the importance of competing in the awards to all her students, noting that the most common categories for students to participate in are drawing and illustration, photography and ceramics. However, entering work into a more uncommon category has its benefits, according to Mades.
“I try to encourage my students to (submit) art that falls into the less-common fields so that their art will have a greater chance of getting into the show,” Mades said. “Those lesser-known categories are typically mixed media (two or more mediums), animation, comic art, printmaking and fashion.”
Jordan said the motivation to push herself and improve her skills is what drew her into the competition year after year. Despite entering for three years, this year was her first time receiving an award. Her advice to younger students: don’t give up after one try.
“The most important thing to know is to keep trying and believe in your work,” Jordan said. “You just have to keep submitting and never give up.”