Students win titles in National YoungArts competition


Illustration by Alexa Druyanoff

Students win YoungArts awards in a variety of disciplines, including photography, writing and music.

Chloe Park

Six students won Finalist, Merit and Honorable Mention titles in the National YoungArts Foundation’s annual competition for the 2021-2022 school year .

The annual YoungArts Competition recognizes 15-18-year-old young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts and provides creative support and opportunities for their professional development. Merit and Honorable Mention titles winners are invited to regional programs, while the finalists are invited to participate in the National YoungArts Week, taking master classes and participating in further in-person evaluations with opportunities to receive financial awards of up to $10,000.

This year, Raisa Effress ’23 and Ian Kim ’24 won Finalist titles in Photography, Grace Kosten ’22 and Ayden Chi ’22 won Merit titles in Photography, Aiko Offner ’23 won a Finalist title in Creative Nonfiction and Casey Weisman ’22 won a Merit title in Composition.

Effress said the YoungArts application process was a valuable learning experience due to the program’s meticulous feedback and evaluation process.

“Of all the visual art competitions [and] programs I’ve participated in, YoungArts is definitely one of my favorites to submit to because the program inspires me to hone my craft,” Effress said in an email. “Having YoungArts in mind as I worked on my series this year, made me more considerate of every detail. Because they care so much about their program, it makes it all the more rewarding to submit to YoungArts.”

Visual Arts Teacher and Visual Arts Department Head Joe Medina said he recommends students submit works to YoungArts because it allows students to begin a process of artistic self-discovery.

“Sure, the prizes are really great, and it’s a perk to have YoungArts on your senior academic resume considering many universities are familiar with the organization,” Medina said. “But personally, I like that it requires students to dig deep, be their authentic selves and really think about why they are making this specific body of work. The creative practice is like anything else; if you want to get good at it, you have to put in the work and hours. It’s not this gift from heaven that falls in your lap.”

YoungArts offers a variety of opportunities for winners such as residencies, observations and performances. Finalists are invited to YoungArts week where competition finalists collaborate with peers across 10 disciplines and develop their craft with internationally recognized leaders in their fields..

Visual Arts teacher Alexandra Pacheco-Garcia said she appreciates that YoungArts allows artists to connect with each other. .

“YoungArts provides an opportunity to bond with and meet other like-minded artistic peers around the country in numerous mediums, which I can guarantee has been transformational for artists who participate in the competition,” Pacheco-Garcia said.

Though the process was extensive, Offner said she enjoyed creating her submission.

“It was honestly kind of nice to go through the process of assembling my work and looking at it through a critical lens,” Offner said. “I feel so lucky to have been listed among so many talented people, and I hope to use this as motivation to keep working on my writing.”

Weisman said YoungArts allowed him to step out of his musical comfort zone.

“I’ve always been musically minded, and composition was a way to be a creator and a musician at the same time,” Weisman said. “This year, I just wanted to put myself out there and show people this thing I made that I was so proud of.”