It’s been 12 years since Art Director Taehyun Kang founded WOW, an afterschool and weekend art studio for teenagers. Since 1998, he’s trained and mentored not only hundreds of young artists, but 3 Portfolio Gold Awards winners as well! He also earned the distinction of Gold Apple Teacher of Art, and its $1,000 award, for a second time in five years. Under his leadership, WOW Art students have submitted the greatest number of outstanding artworks in 2010. We asked Kang to explain why he and his students take part in the Awards.

I have always wanted my students to have a broader range of experiences and this includes art competitions such as the Awards. They provide a great incentive to students to work hard and put their best foot forward.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards stand out because a specific theme, style or medium is not required. It is a tremendous opportunity for students to realize their visions with a sense of freedom. The pride and accomplishment that my students feel in earning an Award is unparalleled.

In the WOW studio, I respect each student’s individuality and their personal potential. During class, I don’t give them any specific methodology for making art, but allow them to experiment with whatever they wish to try. I guide them in developing their own concepts so that they may realize their ideas. This is due to my firm belief that each student has a unique artistic voice within them—whether they are exceptionally technical, expressive, even colorblind or have special needs.

It’s not very often that students or teachers get an opportunity for self-examination. How are we to evaluate our progress? Taking part in the Awards gives me this chance and I am thoroughly encouraged to continue to try my best for each student.

As a teacher, my mission is to provide many means for students to get out there and gain experience beyond the classroom, regardless of results. Students connect with their work and they should have a chance to see other people’s reactions as well. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is one of the largest and most prestigious communities in which young artists can share, learn, and evaluate themselves in a real-world context.

Ovation Inspired Teaching Awards: Special awards presented to two teachers whose exemplary dedication to their students is commendable.

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