East Tech Scarab. Cleveland, Ohio. Thursday, May 3, 1934.

Hughie Lee-Smith won a Scholastic Award in 1934. The talented artist would live through the Great Depression, World War II and the civil rights movement. He taught art, was employed by the WPA, and won a top prize for a painting from the Detroit Institute of Arts. After his move to New York City in 1958, Hughie taught at the Art Students League for 15 years. He was also the second African-American to become an associate member of the National Academy of Design. Retrospectives of his work have been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the New Jersey State Museum, and his art can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Philadelphia Museum of Art collections, among others.

Hughie passed away in 1999, but his art and passion live on. In the letter below, he dispenses advice to young artists and shares what winning the Scholastic Award meant to him.
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Joseph Fitzpatrick teaching at his Saturday art class at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh. (Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Online).

Teachers play a critical role in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. One teacher who impacted the lives of his students was art teacher Joseph Fitzpatrick of Pittsburgh, PA.

Joseph Fitzpatrick was a well-known local artist who taught art classes in high school and extracurricular weekend art classes at the Carnegie Institute. Many of his students would go on to become well-known artists: students and past Scholastic Award winners included Philip Pearlstein, Mel Bochner and Andy Warhol. Read More

Years ago, when Richard Avedon was a teenager, his father warned him he’d be “joining the army of illiterates” if he pursued the artist’s way. Avedon went on to make his mark in the fashion industry as a renowned photographer, shooting for Harper’s Bizarre, Vogue and even political and civil rights movements. But before he achieved fame and fortune in the fashion world, Avedon won a Scholastic Award – though not for the category you would think.

Avedon won in 1941 for the poem Wanderlust, written the year before he enrolled in the Merchant Marines as a photographer. What did his father think of this?

Avedon spent the next two years with the Merchant Marines shooting identification photos of his fellow crewman –  using a Rolleiflex camera his father had given him.

In the early 1930s, three high school students were preparing work for a national art contest sponsored by the Scholastic magazine. Destiny would not abandon these Seattle teens to ordinary lives: they would go on to study calligraphy in China and philosophy in Japan; they would fight in the second World War, work in the fish canneries of Alaska and eventually they would become founding members of one of the Pacific Northwest’s major art movements. But first, they had Scholastic Awards to win.

Morris Graves in his Leek Garden, 1973. Photo: Imogen Cunningham.

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Courtney Vassar. "Grumbacher Red." Grade 12, Age 17. 2010 American Visions Medal, Painting.

The Mixed Media category of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is one of our oldest: it’s been around since the mid-1950s and has made an appearance in our program every year since then. You might be wondering: “What’s so special about that?” Well, we’re glad you asked. It was around the mid-1950s that the company sponsoring this category launched one of the most revolutionary art mediums of the 20th century. Read More

When All the World Was Young: A Memoir. Barbara Holland. Bloomsbury USA, 2006.

Noted humor writer Barbara Holland died of lung cancer this past September. But we found Ms. Holland in our archives, protecting the hunted and reminiscing about her childhood in her poetry. As a junior and senior at Woodrow Wilson High School in 1949 and 1950, her poems won top honors from the Scholastic Writing Awards. Read More