Featuring Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Winners

This fall, many of Lawrenceville's exceptional artists and writers submitted to compete in the annual Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, which was hosted by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The Lawrence had the opportunity to sit down with Sally Lee '23, Raymond Lee '23, and Praewprach Lerthirunvibul '22, some of whom participated in the competition, to discuss more about the creative works they submitted.

Raymond Lee '23 submitted to the Fashion category three works centered around the Chinese Cultural Revolution; one of these works earned an Honorable Mention. In his award-winning piece titled Revolt, Lee created a T-shirt plastered with newspapers that were printed during the Cultural Revolution. To contextualize his piece, Lee mentioned that the newspapers discussed "the freedom of education in China."

He first learned about the Cultural Revolution during interdisciplinary classes in his previous school in Hong Kong. Inspired by the complexity and diversity of the curriculum, he attempted to emulate, in his piece, the style of one of his classes by "putting history and design and arts together."

Although Lee looked forward to working with newspaper, it was an entirely foreign medium for him. In his hands-on creative process, he faced numerous technical difficulties." The newspaper was really brittle and it would tear up on me a lot. The first order only covered a quarter of the T-shirt...Another problem I was facing was [trying] to figure out how I would make the newspapers into a T-shirt form because I couldn't actually sew the newspaper," he reflected. However, through various attempts of trial-and-error, he finally realized that ironing the newspapers on thin sheets of fabric double-sided with glue served as a viable means to make his T-shirt

Reflecting upon his efforts, Lee said that, despite running into major roadblocks, he followed through with troubleshooting as he "held [him]self to a standard of the same caliber" as the previous winning pieces of the Fashion category. To him, it is important to tackle both fine craftsmanship and expression of art.

"If someone didn't read the description of [the] art piece, [he or she] would not know what it [conveyed]. For my piece, I focused heavily on letting the art speak for itself." Lee said, adding that submitting to Scholastic was an opportunity that truly pushed him out of his comfort zone. The competition drove Lee to consider his piece's audience appeal, analyze the works of past winners, and to actualize a creative piece that seemed impractical.

Sally Lee '23 earned an Honorable Mention for her art piece submitted to the Painting category. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lee sought to express the expansive imagination of children who were cooped inside their houses during the pandemic.

"I chose this topic among all other [Covid-19] situations because I had a chance to tutor [younger students] throughout the school year, so I grew a natural interest in them and [how] I could represent them," Lee commented. She created her work over a casual three-week period. Lee's inspiration came from wondering how a child might spend his or her time indoors without company. Using acrylic paint, she painted a masked boy bent over on a table, sketching little figures. His drawings then come to life to become his friends.

During her painting process, Lee initially struggled to portray accurately the vitality and depth of the child's skin tone in her painting. She consulted Visual Arts Teacher Chloe Kalna for advice that could help her depict the boy as more "vivid and lively." Kalna also suggested that "setting down the brush" occasionally can help her sharpen her level of focus.

Lee believes that submitting to Scholastic has enabled her to develop her skills as an artist and a competitor. It has taught her to evaluate her style through the lens of an external audience. "There's a definite style that I like but [also] one that may look good to the audience. If I'm considering the audience, I would have to think [more] about the background they know or how much information I should put into the drawing," she said. Like with the boy in isolation, in the future, Lee hopes to continue creating artwork that addresses current events and general humanitarian issues.

Submitting to the Short Story category in the Writing Awards and winning a Silver Key,

Praewprach Lerthirunvibul '22 based her work on her past experiences. Lerthirunvibul's short story "The Stargazer" explores the inclination for people to change and to present themselves in ways that align with public expectations. She discusses how public opinion can be wrong and comments on the challenges that come with purposefully changing oneself.

Lerthirunvibul was inspired by how people enforce standards of needing to be "unique and different from others," and how others can change themselves to live up to those pre-established expectations. She compares people to stars and compares the way people describe certain individuals as supposedly unique to how people "[talk] about stars with such romanticism."

"I've seen people change to fit another person's standards and be completely bewildered [by themselves]," she said.

Lerthirunvibul made intentional, yet somewhat unconventional, decisions to communicate the theme of her piece. "I deliberately made my protagonist unlikeable, so I had to think of how she would phrase things that would put people off," she said. "[I made] her narration seem as if she [were] talking to a good friend so [that], at times, [she seemed] unreliable and sometimes very distracting from the main topic." Lerthirunvibul wrestled with how she would convey an unlikeable personality to the audience while dealing with her own dislike of her character's point of view. However, these challenges ultimately proved to be enjoyable for her and helped her develop a cohesive piece of writing.

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