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Razan Elbaba uses googly eyes in her mixed-media work to emphasize the negative attention Muslim women receive in their everyday lives.
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Razan Elbaba, 17, Gold Portfolio, Mixed Media. Image courtesy of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the Scholastic Art & Writing Award Winners of 2016.
Leonardo Bacan paints landscapes that evoke a wide range of emotions.
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Leonardo Bacan, 19, Gold Portfolio, Painting. Image courtesy of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the Scholastic Art & Writing Award Winners of 2016.
Recognizing Young Artists
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards honor today’s innovative youth

By Amanda DeNatale | for Scholastic Art

Every fall, students from across the country submit their best works of art and writing to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Then they eagerly wait until spring to find out if they will join the long list of talented alumni who received these prestigious awards as students. This year is no different, as the program recognizes a new class of creative students.

Continuing a Legacy

Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Awards honor young artists in grades 7-12 for their groundbreaking art and writing. Some of history’s most renowned artists and writers, including Andy Warhol, Richard Avedon, and Sylvia Plath, won Scholastic Awards when they were students. Razan Elbaba from Vienna, Virginia, and Leonardo Bacan from Doral, Florida, join the ranks of impressive alumni of the Awards this year. They received two of this year’s sixteen Gold Medal Portfolio Awards. This award is given to high school seniors whose portfolios demonstrate originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal vision or voice.

The Newest Honorees

Razan felt her perspective on the future change drastically when she discovered that she had won a Gold Medal Portfolio Award. “Before the award, I was not very confident in my work. I didn’t feel strong enough to pursue art for the next four years,” she says. Razan’s mixed-media portraits, like the one above, encourage people to re-evaluate their opinions of the Muslim community. “I’m inspired by events that happen in my daily life or events I hear about,” Razan says. “People judge us. I want to educate, inspire, and empower.” She is excited to pursue photography and video at the School of Visual Arts in New York City next fall.

Leonardo says, “There are no words to express what [this award] means to me as an artist.” He makes paintings, like the one on the left, that transform from cosmic to serene in a matter of a few brushstrokes. “I get my inspiration and ideas on the train to school,” Leonardo explains. “I see the sunrise and how the light affects the clouds. The morning is the only time I have to collect myself. I forget about any issues and get dazed by the beauty.” He looks forward to attending New World School of the Arts College in Miami, Florida.

Celebration in the City

This week, Scholastic will honor the award-winning students, their teachers, and their families in a ceremony at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, one of the most prestigious venues in the world. The award-winning artwork and writing will be displayed in exhibitions at Parsons School of Design and Pratt Manhattan Gallery. The night before the ceremony, national medalists are invited to the Maker Prom, an evening of dancing and interactive craft stations presented by some of the city’s creative arts organizations.

In 2016, creative teens submitted approximately 320,000 works of art and writing—the most submissions the Awards have ever received. Next year’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards will open for submissions in the fall of 2016. Please visit for information about how to submit your work.