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Elevated Place by Brandon Brooks, 2014 Gold Medal Art Portfolio

Nathan Cummings and Brandon Brooks rely on the natural world for inspiration and to create, dazzle, and amaze their audiences.  Movement—whether it’s the unexpected flow of bent wood or the harmony of sound, tongue and teeth to pronounce a single word—also plays a central role.

Explains Nathan:  “I am a devotee of the arcane and bizarre: my writing includes pieces on phantom fish, conjoined twins, and the sheer improbability of the word syzygy (SIZZ-uh-GEE). This is my “normal,” the gear at which I’m used to operating.”

In astronomy, syzygy– the alignment of four planets– is a rare and fascinating occurrence. But for this poet, the process of saying the word and envisioning its reality stirred his imagination.  Can you see it as the planets spin below? Read More

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Again and Again and Again (detail), 168” x 72” Adobe Photoshop, Digital Print, Polaroid / Emulsion Transfer

Country, family, community, beliefs, race, cultural norms and accepted behaviors: we are born into this world with many of these factors pre-determined for us. So what’s a teenager to do? As Portfolio Medalists Patrick Zapien and Jackson Trice see it, there’s just one choice: to rebel.

For Jackson, a born-and-bred Southerner, “I Should Be Leaving” deals with how she feel s about her place in the world, coming of age, and the natural urge to revolt that comes with it.

“It goes back to this central question I’ve posed for myself which is: what makes me want to rebel?” she reflects. “Perhaps it is in my blood. And perhaps, I dare to say, I am okay with it.” Read More

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Flourish by Lisa Su (Colored pencil shavings, colored pencil lead, newspaper, coffee grounds)

Let’s face it: Artists and writers see the world a little differently. And it’s not just their keen powers of observation at work—their vision is coupled with a wild and sometimes unpredictable imagination. For artist Lisa Su, her work becomes a celebration of the ordinary that at once elevates and transforms it.

“We often overlook the value in everyday objects,” Lisa explains. By repurposing materials such as pencil shavings, eggshells and coffee filters, she says, “my work brings out the aesthetic qualities hidden within…so that they can transcend their original purpose, creating unique textures and atmospheres seemingly from another world.”

Emma Hastings admits that she feels very close the characters that emerge from her imagination, and that they feel very real to her. As she writes, in fact, they possess uncanny power:   “There was a moment in writing…these stories that one of the characters decided to change course and break from my plans, or bring up something pivotal that I hadn’t thought of before.” Sometimes, she adds, “it was a shock to see what they had in their heads.”

Here, we offer a glimpse of Lisa’s world view and the very real fictional characters that people Emma’s creative mind. To see and read more, visit www.artandwriting.org/galleries. Read More

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Contour by Luis Zepeda, 2014 Gold Medal Art Portfolio

Have you ever had a dream where you find yourself naked at school? While that may be a nightmare for most, Luis Zepeda likes to infuse his works with a touch of humor, which in his 2014 Gold Medal Art Portfolio, the humor comes from a nude Zepeda. More of his work is shown below. Shannon Daniels aims to communicate acute observations about her family based on her experiences growing up with a strong link to her parents and grandparents in New York City. “Persimmon peels left on the kitchen table. The chipped keys of a piano that is out of tune. Everyday objects like these reveal whole histories of the people who use, save, and discard them.” says Daniels.

Daniels, a student at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, continues to describe her portfolio in her writers statement: “To approach and relay my encounters with giant, ubiquitous beasts – death, racism, and poverty – I have learned to begin with the ordinary, the small. From hearing family stories over the kitchen table to grocery-shopping in Chinatown market stalls, I’ve discovered that moments that are dismissed as banal or mundane can unfold daily, unspoken truths.” You can read excerpts from her pieces Scale (below) and Ars Poetica (following Luis’ work). Read More

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Dylicious Jones by Ellie Braun, age 17, Grade 12. 2014 Gold Medal, Art Portfolio.

Today we share with you the work of Jack Rayson and Ellie Braun. Both Medalists gravitate to things discovered and experienced in our youth. While talking about childhood and adolescence, Jack explains “There are so many experiences to be had, experiences that cannot yet be expressed in words, and I think those indescribable moments of discovery or realization are the purest moments because they escape language.” Ellie is “inspired to place an emphasis on human sexuality and gender identity through my investigation of adolescents changing their physical appearance.”

Jack and Ellie truly encompass our criteria of originality and technical skill, and bring a genuine and honest personal voice and vision to their work, even when the subject matter can be difficult to address. Take a look at more of their work below! Read More

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Renal by Madison Brownson. Age 17, Grade 12. 2014 Gold Medal, Art Portfolio.

Hanel Baveja and Madison Brownson both create to help bring a new level of awareness to our lives and our bodies. While Hanel’s “greatest hope for my work is that my poems strike a chord of shared existence” with her readers, Madison’s “hope is to make the viewer pause and realize the beautiful complexity of their own anatomy or the world around them.” Both artists aim to awaken their audience to the intricacies of the world we share.

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is a selection from Hanel’s Award-winning portfolio, comprised entirely of poetry! You can also see more of Madison’s plush organs below!

When Clark’s Ice Cream Parlor first opened

Combinations we’d never even dreamed of.
Names too long to remember:
Dark chocolate ice cream with raspberry
cheesecake pieces and caramel bonbons,
sweet cream ice cream with bumbleberry
compote and jordan almond fudge chunks. Read More