MSA art students recognized nationally

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 11, 2009

The artwork of two Mississippi School of the Arts seniors willbe honored June 4 when they receive national recognition by theAlliance for Young Artists and Writers with the 2009 Scholastic Artand Writing Award.

Nicole Anderson, of Vancleave, and Lena Stevens, of Hernando,said they cannot attend the official ceremony at Carnegie Hall inNew York City, but were excited to be chosen.

“To win at this level is really an honor,” said Anderson, whowill be graduating from MSA on May 23 with special honors.

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Stevens, MSA’s 2009 valedictorian, agreed.

“I think it’s a chance to finally put our artwork where peoplecan see it. It’s a definite honor,” she said.

The 86-year-old national Scholastic Art and Writing programrecognizes outstanding creative teenagers and offers scholarshipopportunities for graduating high school seniors. Selected awardrecipients recognized with top honors for portfolios will havetheir art/writing exhibited in Manhattan at the World MonumentsFund Gallery.

Anderson and Stevens said as silver key portfolio winners, theirwork will likely not be displayed in the gallery, but would beavailable for viewing on the exhibit’s Web site.

Their work has already been displayed at the Mississippi Museumof Art when they won selection at the state level of the programand at the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Regional Public Library aspart of MSA’s 2009 Senior Art Shows.

Stevens has already benefited from being selected for the award.She had already planned to attend the Rochester School ofTechnology in Rochester, N.Y., on scholarships in the fall. Whenthe school learned of her selection, they added another $2,000 peryear scholarship.

Although a technology school may seem like an unlikely choicefor an arts student, Stevens said the school offers six photographymajors. She intends to major in biomedical or advertisingphotography.

“But that could easily change when I get there,” she said. “I’llhave to look at all the different (photography) majors.”

Anderson has received an academic scholarship to the Universityof Southern Mississippi.

“I’m considering double-majoring in art and fashionmerchandising,” she said.

Some of the pieces included in her portfolio showed how her artis inspired by her interest in fashion, Anderson said.

Both seniors credited MSA with giving them the knowledge andcourage to pursue their art careers.

“I can look back at my 10th grade stuff that I thought was soawesome and now it’s like ‘What was I thinking?'” Stevens said.

Anderson added that “I wouldn’t have tried any of this before.MSA pushes us way beyond our comfort level and to take a few morerisks with our art.”

Stevens and Anderson join the ranks of some of our country’smost revered artists and writers who have received Scholastic Art& Writing Awards in the past, including Robert Redford, AndyWarhol, Truman Capote, John Lithgow, Bernard Malamud, Joyce CarolOates, Tom Otterness, Philip Pearlstein, Zac Posen, Sylvia Plath,Richard Avedon and Robert Indiana.