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Fifty-six Milton students received recognition in the 2021 Massachusetts Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The students earned 124 Gold Key, Silver Key, or Honorable Mention accolades in the competition. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards began in 1923 and are considered the most prestigious awards for teenagers in the country. Milton’s 31 Gold Key pieces are submitted to the national Scholastic competition, and results for the national contest will be announced in March.

Anne Kwok ‘21 earned six Gold Keys, one Silver Key, and two Honorable Mentions for her poetry. One of her poems that earned a Gold Key is entitled “After Warfare.”

“In my work, I’m captivated by the role of aestheticism in healing,” says Kwok. “I love using fantastical myths for my poems to find truths even in the ancient and the uncanny. Poetry is a mirror I hold against the alien-ness present within us, to both surrender my fears and to empathize with the vulnerabilities of those around me. I especially love diving into the Chinese myths that were my grandma’s bedtime stories for me when I was younger. For example, I set my poem “After Warfare” in the Legend of Hou Yi, wrestling with how vulnerable groups of people are forced to bear the consequences of war after the glory and victory are over.”

“Breathe” by Jiawei Sun ’21

Jiawei Sun ’21 earned two Gold Keys, five Silver Keys, and eight Honorable Mentions in various art categories. Sun says his favorite mediums to work in are micron ink pens and copic markers for drawing and illustration pieces, although he also works in acrylic and watercolor painting, mixed media, and sculpture. One of his Gold Keys was earned for a sculpture titled “Breathe.”

To me, art is freedom,” says Sun. “I see landscapes or objects and I add my own touch, blending concept and reality. Therefore, many of my pieces are introspective and philosophical. My never-ending pursuit of creation motivates me to take up my pen and brush each day, and to breathe life into the ideas floating around in my head.”

“Under Wraps” by Blake Anker

Blake Ankner ‘23 earned three Silver Keys and an Honorable Mention for his photography. Ankner said two of the photos submitted to Scholastic “involved a blanket, one with the blanket ‘strangling’ myself and the other hovering above myself. To me, the two individually showed how confining isolation has been and how ominous Covid seems to be.”

Anker said he uses the camera as a tool to connect. “During times where it is hard to connect, including even before the pandemic, photography can be used to share environment, emotions, and moments in time, which is what has always drawn my attention. My art in the past year was especially molded through the pandemic: the confinements of my house, how ‘isolation’ has affected my emotions, and what the story is that I want to tell.”

Max Seelig ‘22 earned a Gold Key in Dramatic Script, two Silver Keys in Critical Essay, and an Honorable Mention in Poetry. Seelig says his script “was about a family going through divorce that is told from the perspectives of both partners. I played with timelines to make the piece intricate and interesting. One partner told the first half of the story linearly (from their first meeting to their wedding) and the other partner told the second half of the story in reverse (from signing the divorce papers to their wedding). The play ends when their timelines converge at their wedding, that way you know how they end and begin while you are seeing this climactic moment.” 

“On Dysphoria,” By Lynn Yuan, July 2020; oil on canvas and decorative plaster. 13.8 x 35.2 in

Yidan Yuan ‘21 earned a Gold Key and three Honorable Mentions for her art. She says she likes to work digitally with a drawing tablet, but also likes using oils. Her Gold Key piece “On Dysphoria,” is “a self portrait exploring my gender identity; my experimental use of the decorative plaster helps show the dysphoric nature of my perspective on my assigned sex.”

Yuan says her interest in art started at at young age, when she shadowed her older sister’s private lessons that accompanied university assignments. “I began taking art seriously in middle school when I went to a studio in Hong Kong every Sunday. For the past few summers, I’ve been attending an art center in New Jersey for two to three weeks in which we spend six hours doing portfolio work and then spend the night also doing sketchbook work. I enjoy those summer camp days very much. In the future, I hope to become a museum curator.”