JONAH KOLIK, Bathroom Sink, Painting. Grade 12, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, OH.

JONAH KOLIK, Bathroom Sink, Painting. Grade 12, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, OH. Daniel Lemke Art Portfolio

The highest honor in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the Gold Medal Portfolio. Sixteen students–eight artists and eight writers–are chosen for this award each year, and each student receives a $10,000 scholarship.

Over the next eight weeks, we will be shining a spotlight on these remarkable artists and writers. Stay tuned to learn more about these creative and talented teens!

This week, we begin with Jonah Kolik and Jieyan Wang. Jonah uses his art to explore how human interaction can alter a home and how the emotion and memory of previous inhabitants can resonate for new owners. Jieyan uses fantastical elements in her stories to make sense of the very real issues in both her internal and external world.

Jonah Kolik

“My work explores our emotional connection with these spaces as well as the influences we leave behind, referencing my own departure from one familiar home and place to another. I work to capture this feeling of vacancy and intimacy by showcasing the breaking down and changing of a home over time.”

JONAH KOLIK, Bathtub, Painting. Grade 12, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, OH.

JONAH KOLIK, Bathtub, Painting. Grade 12, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, OH. Daniel Lemke Art Portfolio

Jieyan Wang

“For me, the works in this portfolio represent my longstanding love for stories that are wonderfully weird. Whenever I write a story that blurs the line between the real and the unreal, I am trying to make sense of both the world around me and the emotions inside of me.”

My Life in Seven Stories

Flash Fiction. Grade 12, Moscow High School, Moscow, ID. Command Companies Writing Portfolio

Mountains and Sparrows
It used to be that the sparrows would wake up at dawn and soar around the slumbering mountains. In the winter, the trees on the slopes grew blue with bitterness. The sun peeked over the horizon to cast a rosy tint over the frost. Down in the valley, I plunged my hands into the snow to make an ice castle. The sparrows cried out before my mother called me home. Their shrieks echoed through the wandering clouds.

The Appraiser
“No garage, no car access, in the middle of nowhere—honestly, how many mistakes can you make? The cost of demolishing may be even greater than the property value,” she said. The sound of her leather shoes tapping against the rock burned through my skull. What I was afraid of: what my life would be like without listening to the sparrows every day, without the mountains outside our house, without the castles and clouds.

I was almost an adult a few years after we moved into the city. On days when I dreamt about the sparrows even while I was awake, I sat in the shadow of the alleyway behind the brick-walled apartments. Piece-by-piece, I ripped apart the rain-soaked newspaper in my hand. I stuffed the bits in my ears, slipped them in my mouth, and covered my face with the front page. The world was normal as long as I couldn’t hear anything.

Youthful Flames: Finding Yourself
The first breath of independence, bartending to broken radio songs, a mind brimming with static, an attempt to speak with a window, slush filled with dissolving gravel, an argument over the existence of heaven, fleeting aspirations, the need to fly, a final wish for silence.

Potted Plants
The first wrinkle on my forehead came when I was out of breath from my first decade of adulthood and decided to settle in my apartment. There, water drizzled through the cracks in the walls. My husband, unlike the first one, approved of the flowers that I had set up around the space to catch the moisture. As I observed the poppy in the corner, I wondered if there was a possibility that fractures would become so large that the rain could drown us. For some reason, even though we lived on the bottom floor, our carpet was the driest. I could only guess that the raindrops were afraid of the dark too, and by the time they had trickled to the ground, they froze. I sometimes woke up in the middle of night, trying to remember a dream that I never had.

Our Memories
Every now and then, on my way to work, I spotted a woman standing on the bridge and looking up at the sky. She told me several stories about her life, none of which were true. In the few minutes after she finished her tale about being a fighter jet pilot, I patted her shoulder in understanding. At some point, all people were moved to remember their lives differently. Somewhere along our timelines, we realized that we could do more by looking back than pushing forward.

As I lay on my bed, holding my now-grown son’s hand, I told him three things: One, always listen to the call of the sparrows. Two, dream while he still had the chance to. Three, we were born with holes in our hearts, and we spent our whole lives trying to fill them. All of these, I believed, he could hear above the creaking of my bones, above the whirl of the unrelenting wind.

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

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