Students Recognized for Art, Writing Achievements 

Monday, May 11, 2020
Jesse Zhang ’20

Lian Wang ’21, of Hong Kong, received a National Silver Medal for her poem, “On the Heat of My Tongue,” and Jesse Zhang ’20 of Beijing, China, earned a National Silver Medal  in the 2020 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for his art portfolio. Additionally, Clara Getty ’21  received a Gold Key, regional recognition as well as a American Visions Nominee for her sculpture “Banana Pietà.” 

A total of 36 works by Mercersburg students earned recognition at the national or regional levels.

Click here to read Wang’s poem. 

"On The Heat of My Tongue" is a sophisticated expression of how it feels to straddle multiple languages and cultures,” said Michele Poacelli, English faculty and director of the Writing Center. “Language can be a connector, but it can also be a source of alienation. Lian masterfully crafts the English language to grapple with this complex theme. It is a poem deserving of national recognition, and we’re thrilled it will appear in the 2020 edition of Blue Review, which Wang is the co-literary editor of.”

Wang said that reading the works of past and present Scholastic winners is humbling and inspiring. 

“It is an immense honor to now be recognized among these talented writers across the country,” Wang said. “Through my writing, I share parts of my identity and experiences, so to be recognized with a national award shows that my message has been received by judges and successfully conveyed what I tried to say.”

Zhang qualified for the national competition after receiving a Gold Key in the Regional Scholastic Awards. 

“Jesse is an incredible photographer. His passion for the work, his personal drive to excel, and his limitless work ethic have been the perfect recipe to produce this level of achievement,” said Kristen Pixler, a member of the arts faculty and a photography instructor at Mercersburg. “To win a Silver Medal for a portfolio is quite an honor but one that is clearly well-deserved.”

Zhang said he is honored to be recognized at the national level for his art portfolio. "The work in the portfolio spans across many years and many places I have been, so the stories were particularly meaningful to me,” Zhang said. “Also, working with Mrs. Pixler is always very interesting. Throughout the process of putting the portfolio together, I learned a lot from her, and I am very grateful for her support."

Banana Pieta by Clara Getty ’21

Getty said she was originally unsure about submitting to scholastic because she wasn’t feeling confident about the piece.

“I was worried the judges wouldn’t get it,” Getty said. “I was excited to be recognized regionally, and then surprised and ecstatic to be honored on a national level. It’s still crazy to me that something so simple as a banana sculpture can be so highly regarded!” 

Syd Caretti, arts faculty said that she’s always excited to see how and with what Clara will respond in the studio.

“While at first a humorous visual representation of the Pieta, Clara harnessed the current charged subject of a banana duct-taped to the wall at Art Basel (“Comedian” by Maurizio Cattelan) and pushed the evolution to a refined interpretation of a classical subject. She aptly portrayed the ripening stages of the bananas to depict mother and son. Clara’s maturity of visual expression is rare at this level and so fun to witness,” Caretti said.

A number of other Mercersburg students placed at the regional level.

Gold Key recipients include Berklee Cohen ’20, for his paintings “Passenger,” “House Guest,” and “Our Positions;”  Eliza DuBose ’20 for her personal essay and memoir “Ruined Books” and “To Be Forgotten;” Jay Howley ’21 for his critical essay “Don't Go Big, Go Home;” Awura Aba Kwakoma Kufuor ’21 for her critical essay “Shaving My Legs? Meh... I Think I’ll Pass;” and Wang for her poem “an elegy for the falling sky.”

Silver Key recipients include Cohen for his painting “Up or Down?;” Mel Cort ’23 for her poetry, “Last Day of Bravery” and “Miss Noises;” Dylan Gantt  ’21 for his critical essay “How to Progress on the LGBTQ+...;” Samuel Nobile ’21 for his critical essay “Books: Artifacts of Human Creativity;” Chelsea Seaby Bruno ’21 for her critical essay “Cowtastrophy: Why Eating Bugs Will…;” and Naeemah Winter ’20 for her sculpture “Movement.”

Honorable Mention recipients include Ryan Bland ’21 for his critical essay “When Education Kills;” Lucy Bowman ’21 for her photography entries “Porcelain Daydream” and “Chantler 1;” Cort for her poem “An Overdue Orientation Thank You;” Stanley Fang ’21 for his film and animation entry “Elements;” Addie Geitner ’21 for her critical essay “What If the Weather was Always Perfect?;” Howley for his mixed media “Ludwig;” Naia Jurgensen ’21 for her drawing and illustration “Biking;” Blanca Lopez Martinez ’21 for her critical essay “Choice is Power;” Saskia Mentor ’21  for her critical essay “The Importance of Mental Health…;” Ebube Onwusika ’21 for her critical essay “For Halloween, I am Going to be a…;” Brandon Ryu ’21 for his mixed media “Submerged earth;” Zareena Sorho ’23 for her photography “Self Portrait;” Selina Xue ’20 for her senior art portfolio and her paintings “Sunset,” “Traffic light,” and “Shanghai City line;” and Farah Yahaya ’21 for her poetry “while you were swimming.”