GILLIAN DICKINSON, The Angel, Sculpture. Grade 12, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL

GILLIAN DICKINSON, The Angel, Printmaking. Grade 12, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL

Next up in our showcase of the 2019 Gold Medal Portfolio recipients are artist Gillian Dickinson and writer Ariana Smith. Gillian uses her art to explore religion and its impact on her identity, while Ariana’s poems reflect her personal experience as a black queer woman in today’s society. Both students received $10,000 scholarships for their portfolios.

Gillian Dickinson

“My work tends to reflect my views about religion and social forces. I draw inspiration from art history, specifically religious Byzantine art, as well as my own views on religion . . . The overwhelming presence of Christian ideals pushes me to make art that references my queer identity, which I do through self-portraiture. My portfolio juxtaposes rats with early Byzantine religious symbolism to parody religious imagery in a playful and ironic way. Rats are typically associated with infestations, plagues, and general threats to public safety. Halos, Gothic arches, and metal leaf are meant to elevate rats to the status of figures typically admired and revered throughout history.”

GILLIAN DICKINSON, Altar Piece, Sculpture. Grade 12, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL

GILLIAN DICKINSON, Altar Piece, Sculpture. Grade 12, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL

Ariana Smith

“My poetry reflects my experiences as a black queer woman moving through the world and through spaces where I’m not always accepted. I love every part of my identity and it is only natural in my being to question the institutions that are built to suppress the voices of people who are like me. To me, poetry is a way is a form of activism. Since language was taken from my ancestors, I see poetry and storytelling as a form of resilience. Writing helps me reclaim that right to express myself and make my voice be heard.”

Sisterhood

ARIANA SMITH, Poetry. Grade 12, Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, Las Vegas, NV

When your sister is your hairdresser, you need no mirror. – African Proverb

What are we?
    An omen, a sacrifice.

Crumbling soil and the salt
Of the sea remind her of
Igbo Landing.
The sun, her star,
A golden light onto brown body,
Carnelian stone.
Women with skin the shade
Of vintage stepping stones,
Skin like fire,
Her touch singes—
Her Flesh, an armor.
The muscle of ancestors,
Lineage like silk in her blood.
Planted seed by seed from
Our grandmothers, grown from spells
Before forced Christianity.
Brown girl, brownstone,
Sisterhood is: sitting on the stoop watching
The little ones play double dutch,
Beads hanging down past their
Ears like raindrops.
Hands of master artistry
Braid wool into tight rows
Of Underground Railroad
escape routes.
Sleek curls that stick
To scalp like chewing gum,
Poppin’ bubbles like
Our men.
Curls like shackles,
Twisting and shaping,
Shifting and welding.
Between us
Lies the world.
My sisters.
We so fly,
but we never leave the ground.

To see more Gold Medal Portfolio recipients, past and present, visit our Eyes on the Prize series.

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