JASMINE MASON, Intersection, Painting. Grade 12, Henrico High School Center for the Arts, Richmond, VA. Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies Art Portfolio

JASMINE MASON, Intersection, Painting. Grade 12, Henrico High School Center for the Arts, Richmond, VA. Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies Art Portfolio

Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve been highlighting the creative students who achieved the high honor of our Gold Medal Portfolio. This week we shine the spotlight on students Jasmine Mason and Isabella Cho. Jasmine uses her artwork to explore the in-between moments of everyday life when people are simply waiting. Isabella’s writing is focused on how everyday questions of loss, belonging, and cultural identity inform how we as people engage with one another.

Jasmine Mason

“In my body of work, I investigate the act of waiting. Through my inquiry, I discovered that the city of Richmond Virginia has a high concentration of poverty, and it’s not uncommon to see people of color waiting for everyday necessities such as transportation, food, and even the use of a washing machine…My intention as I’m painting isn’t to fully capture my subject’s surroundings, but to give the viewer a sense of place. As I’m painting, I try to remember to focus on all of my subjects as individuals, because I, like them, am waiting.”

JASMINE MASON, 93 Azalea Connector, Painting. Grade 12, Henrico High School Center for the Arts, Richmond, VA. Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies Art Portfolio

JASMINE MASON, 93 Azalea Connector, Painting. Grade 12, Henrico High School Center for the Arts, Richmond, VA. Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies Art Portfolio

Isabella Cho

“Writing is an iterative and radical exercise in empathy. Through writing, I strive to develop the creativity and humility to invite into my life truths other than my own…I hope that my work startles readers, that engaging with my pieces evokes for them a heightened, more dimensional awareness of how ethnic, cultural, racial, and linguistic disparities inform the ways in which people navigate communities, the world at large, and their own selves.”

 

Seoul Haibun
Poetry, Grade 12, North Shore Country Day School, Winnetka, IL. The Harry and Betty Quadracci Writing Portfolio

i asked for home in this city, sold my tongue to the fisherman un-teething pollock in the lip of the monsoon. bad weather, he said, brandishing his knife slick with red film, bad weather to sell the sea. i asked for home and was given meat wrapped in cellophane, the muscle-thrash of fin still warm in my palms. the man said eat, slipped the ocean’s welled tear in my throat.

*

there is no repentance here. instead, my tongue welling with blood, culled of syllable. back home in america telephone pole cordons my teeth, makes meat of my hands. back home there is hamburger grease on my chin and the denim makes it hard to breathe. back home i cannot hear my grandmother —when you coming back?— over the lawnmower sliding its teeth over pansies, over the picketed lawn, the violence of it. but not here. here i watch boys pocket dragonflies in their mouths and say aya aya aya as asphalt peels their knees. here i steal glances at the girls scrawling pictographs over their pale arms — moon, daughter, hunger hunger — under camphor, catch their immaculate pronunciation and let it add skins to my mouth.

*

my mother told me i used to run open-mouthed through these parks. at night she read me stories, traced her hands over symbol-studded pages, watched as my tongue moved worlds: there is a rabbit on the moon. i’d clamber over steel jungle gym, claw at the blue air. i want that rabbit i want that rabbit i want that want that that. back then, i hadn’t learned to economize want. back then, the buildings were so close they felt like skins made of turning walls. back then, there was a way to salvage what i’d lost in the fish bones xylophoned through my lips smeared in cheap gloss. back then, there were words for the person i wanted to be: powerful, intimidating. well-spoken, ambidextrous. two-tongued. two-tongued. two-tongued.  

*

at the lakefront, the city bristles before turning away. my tongue lodges against the slums of my teeth: a foreign root. esophagus darkens with spit and i cack. the muscle slips, blue and wild, onto my palms, stirs like child like dog like rainwater maddened by teeth, moves as if mouthing hymnal. and the fisherman knee-deep in black water mistakes my posture for praying. and i blister animal under the moon. and i beg for home and this, this is what is left to be given: the city turning its back, souls collected in its limbs like a forest. and my tongue shifts in my hands, looks into my eyes as if to say chase

                                                        me as if to say you

                                             never owned me as if to say goodbye 

                                                       now as if to say gone gone.

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

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