By Nikki Turman
If you’ve been a member of the NMAEA for awhile now, you’ve probably heard of the
New Mexico Scholastic Art Awards. Maybe you’ve entered student work in the past,
perhaps you’ve seen a poster or a presentation at our state conference, maybe
you’ve heard about them in passing from a colleague. Chances are you have some
The biggest question is usually what are the awards? Where did they come from?
What is this whole thing all about?
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest running and most
prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7-12. It was founded in
1923, and has included awards winners such as Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Sylvia
Plath, Truman Capote, Stephen King and Robert Redford. This year, students
submitted nearly 340,000 works of visual arts and writing to the Scholastic Awards;
nearly 90,000 works were recognized at the regional level and celebrated in local
ceremonies. New Mexico is one of those regional art affiliates, and this is our 7 th year
hosting the program. We include all schools in New Mexico and El Paso, public,
private and charter. Last year we had over 800 entries from across the region, and
we awarded 253 awards. Out of those awards there are three levels of excellence,
Honorable Mention, Silver Key, and Gold Key. Silver and Gold Key award winners
are physically displayed at our winners’ exhibition, which is held at Warehouse 508
in downtown Albuquerque. This year we displayed 142 pieces in our show. Gold
Key winners, of which we had 58, go on to compete against all the other Gold Key
winners in the nation for National Awards. More than 2,700 students earned
National Medals, and they were celebrated at Carnegie Hall in New York City, as well
as with exhibitions of their artwork at Parsons and Pratt. This year New Mexico
had 10 Silver Medalists and 3 Gold Medalists.
I see you nodding your head, saying “Wow! That sounds awesome. My students
make great work. How do I get in on this?”
I’ll tell you how. On September 12th , when the submission window opens, you go to
www.artandwriting.org and sign up for a teacher account. Once you have your
teacher account, any of your students who want to submit artwork to the Scholastic
Art and Writing Awards can create a student account and list you as their educator.
Once they have an account they can upload digital photos of the artwork they want
to submit. Pretty easy right? OK, there are just a couple more steps to complete
your entry. Each artwork you upload will generate a submission form, the forms
need to be printed out and signed by the student, their parent, and you the teacher.
The signed form can then be scanned and uploaded back into the students account
or physically mailed in. OK, last little bit, almost done. The submission fee. This
year the fee is $7 per artwork and $25 per portfolio. But the great thing is if you the
teacher feel the fee is a barrier to student participation there is a waiver form you
can download and fill out. You can find this form on our New Mexico website
www.newmexicoartawards.wordpress.com Each student will need a waiver and
that can be uploaded also or mailed in with the submission forms. Here’s the
important part. In order to be complete each entry needs a submission form and a
submission fee or fee waiver form. That’s it your part is done, sit back, relax and pat
yourself on the back.
So you entered the artwork what happens next?
A week or so after the submission window closes, which this year is on December
13t, all the completed entries will be sorted into panels by category. On a Saturday
the panels will convene and the awards will be decided. Each panel will consist of
three professionals from the field, these include professional artists, college
professors, and retired art educators. Once all the panels have been awarded, all the
jurors will convene and pick the top five artworks from the Gold Key winners in all
categories and these pieces will be awarded the American Vision Awards for our
region. These five pieces are considered to be the best of the best pieces for this
year. Teachers and students will be notified of all awards winners before the new
So what are the jurors looking for?
The three criteria student work is judged by are technical skill, originality, and
personal voice. Make sure the work you submit is original student work, not copied
from the internet or another source. Jurors will immediately disqualify any
recognizable copied work. Also any winning work is run through tineye looking for
potential matches and can be disqualified at that point. Technical skill and personal
voice can often be an either/or situation. Work that wins awards often shows great
technical mastery of the medium or risk taking and unusual use of materials, subject
If your student wins Silver Key or a Gold Key you will need to mail or deliver the
artwork, nicely matted, by January 24th for the exhibition at Warehouse 508 in
downtown Albuquerque. The exhibit has a soft opening February 7th and will hang
until March 21st . On March 21st we hold the Awards Ceremony. It is a prestigious
affair where students are recognized on stage for the awards they have won in our
region. The National Medal winners are also announced at this time and various
monetary awards are presented and scholarships given out. At the conclusion of
the ceremony students may take their artwork with them. Last year we had nearly
400 people in attendance.
Lastly, if your student won a National Medal they will need to send their winning
artwork to the Scholastic office in New York City by April 1st . Their piece will be
displayed in one of the many National Exhibitions and they are also invited to attend
the National Ceremony on June 4th at Carnegie Hall.
Start gathering artwork now. When something wonderful is finished take the time
to take a good photo of it. Put them in a folder on your desktop. They’ll be ready to
upload when the time comes and you won’t have to go hunting for the artwork.
You know your students, and you know what exceptional work has been produced
by them. Don’t wait until the deadline. When the window opens make your
account, then have your students who excel make their students accounts. I do it
during studio time in class, I call them up to my desk one at a time and have them
make accounts. It takes less than 10 min per student.
Help them upload their photos and print out forms. If you want this process to be
successful you will need to facilitate the steps. The process will seem
overwhelming to students if you don’t provide direction and assistance.
Don’t think because your program doesn’t have a big budget, or fancy supplies that
the artwork being created can’t be extraordinary. I know there is amazing work
being produced in towns and cities all over the state. I see it coming from all
corners and all all types of programs and students.
Above all invest the time to submit artwork in order to have your students and your
art program get the recognition it deserves!