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Emerging Artists at Lincoln

What do Amanda Gorman, Ezra Jack Keats, Tschabalala Self, Joyce Carol Oates, and Kay WalkingStick have in common with Lincoln students Eliana B. ’24, Ramona B. ’23, Ella G. ’23, Anya K. ’24, and Ruby V. ’25?

Each has seen their creative work honored by the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards as a teen. The program—the nation's longest-running educational initiative supporting student achievement in the visual and literary arts—has played a crucial role in recognizing and nurturing some of the most talented American artists of the last century. And this year, five Lincoln students join their ranks.

Beyond the long tradition of excellence established by the Scholastic Awards, the program is distinct in that it places as much weight on the emergence of a personal voice or vision as it does on technical skill. With Lincoln’s emphasis on independence and empowerment throughout divisions, developing a strong personal voice is something at which our students shine. 

“At Lincoln, the girls are encouraged to reflect and think critically about their work and what they want to say.” —Anita Thompson, Visual Arts department head

"These pieces are not created in a vacuum,” explains Anita Thompson, Visual Arts department head. “At Lincoln, the girls are encouraged to reflect and think critically about their work and what they want to say. This introspective process—which is the same in nursery as it is for our art majors in the Upper School—serves as a well-spring of creativity and provides the platform for each of our students to develop their own vision and their unique voice." 

The five Lincoln students were recognized by the Northeast Art Region-at-Large program of the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, administered by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in New York City. This region serves all students located or attending school in areas of the northeastern United States. Gold Key works will be automatically advanced to the national level of adjudication in New York City. National Medalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. 

We recently spoke to Ella G. ’23, Eliana B. ’24, and Anya K. ’24 about their awards.

Ella G. ’23: Gold Key—Ceramics
“Starvation”

How did you get the idea for this piece?
I did this piece in an Advanced Studio art class, and our prompt was to create a piece themed around social justice. I had a lot of ideas because there are a lot of issues that I am passionate about. I came to the conclusion on the topic of food insecurity because it is something I didn't know a whole lot about, and I guessed that other people were also relatively unaware of this issue. Because we live in the US I think people forget that there is a huge number of people who really struggle with food insecurity. For the actual design, I had to think about how I wanted to portray this issue. I knew from the start that I wanted to work with clay, and I sketched out a few ideas that I had, and eventually landed on my pile of heads.

What was your creative process like?
I always struggle to come with ideas for my art. Usually, I have absolutely nothing in mind. My solution is that I just start doodling, even if I have no ideas at all. My doodles often lead to ideas that I can work with for my piece. Even if I think that I thought something through, something comes up that I wasn't expecting, so I often have to improvise and make small changes as I go.

How did you learn about the award?
I first learned about this award last year when I got an email that other Lincoln students won. This year, I submitted my piece because my art teacher Anita suggested that I should.

What inspires you as an artist?
When I am stuck on something, the thing that always helps me get back on track is listening to music. Music can really set the mood for the piece that I am working on.

What would you say to younger girls who are interested in exploring visual arts or creative writing?
I would tell them to not be afraid of being "bad." I have held myself back and given up on so many things because I was afraid of being bad at something. Everyone has to start somewhere!

Eliana B. ’24: Honorable Mention—Photography
“Hidden Within”

How did you get the idea for this piece?
The idea of this photograph came from my love for journaling. I always like to keep a journal by my side, and when asked in my photography class to take black and white pictures, I decided to photograph it. Although the picture is in black in white, the color was "hidden within" the words, hence the title of my piece. 

What was your creative process like?
My creative process started off with me stumped on how to start my photography project. As I looked all around my house, I couldn't find anything to photograph, especially since the pictures needed to be in black and white. Then I realized that what I was looking for was right in front of me the whole time. 

Who was the first person you told about the award and why?
After receiving the award, the first person I told was my mom. She is always by my side and inspires me to put my all in everything I do. I am so glad that she is there for me, and me winning this award wasn't just for me but for her as well. 

What inspires you as an artist?
Not only does my mom inspire me as an artist, but also the love that surrounds me. I am so grateful for Lincoln, my friends, and family members who motivate me to do what I love like photography. 

What would you say to younger girls who are interested in exploring visual arts or creative writing?
To the younger girls, I would say to follow your hearts and dreams and let them lead the way. Just remember that it is okay to make mistakes during the process, and just trust me when I say the outcome of your work will all be worth it. 

Anya K. ’24: Honorable Mention—Sculpture
“Catalina 27”

How did you get the idea for this piece?
I originally had no idea what I wanted to make, but I knew that I wanted it to have a personal connection to me and my family. The prompt for the sculptures was “transportation,” so I immediately thought of our family boat. 

What was your creative process like?
Personally, the creative process was a bit tricky. I knew I wanted to make something that I could hang on the wall, but once I came up with the idea of my boat it was difficult to find a way to make it still three-dimensional and be capable of being light and shallow enough. After coming up with a sketch, finding materials and figuring out what I would need to learn how to do were the next steps. Anita and all of the instructors at the Steelyard were very helpful, so that wasn’t much of an issue. Using the tools was a process of trial and error, and I thought that it was interesting how science was very important while using them. After making the hull without any details, the first issue was that it didn’t look natural while hanging it up on the wall. After trying a few different tactics, I was satisfied. During an array of similar issues, I would constantly be holding my structure up to the wall to see if it was similar to my vision and sketches. After that system, my work was completed. 

Who was the first person you told about the award and why?
Honestly, Anita walked up to me in the hallway while I was standing with my friends, so they were the first people who heard. They were very supportive and congratulated me. 

What inspires you as an artist?
As an individual, I would say that the feeling of completion and having a physical result of my work made me want to complete this piece. Often, the only result of my work would be a grade or something ephemeral. Having a physical manifestation of my dedication and hard work was honestly what drove me to make this piece. 

What would you say to younger girls who are interested in exploring visual arts or creative writing?
Even if you don’t think that you would be good at it or that it’s the style you like working with, trying can yield surprising results and spark new interests. Worst-case scenario, you know what art types suit you, and it’s a learning experience to make your passion and knowledge more well rounded. 

Ramona B. ’23: Honorable Mention—Photography and Poetry
“The Sheep Is Afraid to Turn Around” and
“no hard feelings”

How did you get the idea for this piece?
Photo: I've been very interested in UFO lore and cryptozoology since I was little, and there are a lot of stories about extraterrestrials in relation to livestock. I thought the pattern on my desk could look sort of like earth in an artificial way. I wanted to try and capture the eye of an alien predator, but I didn't want it to be gruesome. I wanted it to seem clinical and removed but also weirdly soulful, because I've always found those stories to be really emotional.

Poem: It was initially supposed to be a haiku, but that sort of flew out the window and I rolled with it! I wanted the imagery to be simple but precise, soft and geometric. 

What was your creative process like?
Photo: I have a box of knick knacks I've collected over the years, and the sheep was in that box. I like to start in complete darkness when I photograph still lives, then create all the lighting myself. I have a box of used lighting gels so I put a green one over a flashlight in darkness and shined it over the sheep. 

Poem: I was really tired and disappointed because I was having writer's block over the course of a few days, and I think I stressed myself out so much that I wrote a poem.

Who was the first person you told about the award and why?
My mom was the one that found out first because she was the one who told me. The first person we told together was my stepdad, then I told one of my close friends who I share art with.

What inspires you as an artist?
Cryptozoology, surrealism, absurdism, family, social justice, children’s books, music I like, sea creatures, dinosaurs, words, silent films, friends, dreams, feelings, and more! I feel like I'm still able to access the way I perceived the world when I was really little and was just seeing everything for the first time, and I try to use that to my advantage in my visual art. I try to communicate feelings I haven't seen anyone else communicate yet. 

What would you say to younger girls who are interested in exploring visual arts or creative writing?
Go for it!!! Go for it go for it!!! I don't know what to say that hasn't already been cliched to oblivion, but maybe that's it. Take all the cliches ("Focus on the journey, not the final product!" "Just make what's in your heart!" ) as literally as you can, but don't let any rules about art rule you.