Art, writing exhibit returns after hiatus

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An exhibit honoring the best work of teenage artists and writers across the country has returned to Pittsburgh for the first time in more than 50 years.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, which originated in Pittsburgh in 1928, has a display of work by its national winners, titled "Art. Write. Now," at The Andy Warhol Museum through March 2. Warhol won a Scholastic gold key regional award for a painting while he was a 17-year-old student at Schenley High School.

Wilkinsburg native and Scholastic Inc. founder Maurice Robinson started the program in 1923 and exhibits were held at the Carnegie Institute, now known as Carnegie Mellon University. In 1957, the exhibit of national winners was moved to New York, but it returned here this year as part of a national tour.

"Reaching the 90-year mark was a great excuse to come back," said Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit that gives the awards. "There's something poetic about restabilizing the roots after so long."

Nearly 1,800 national winners received gold or silver medals last year and an as many as five received scholarships of up to $1,000. Another 39,000 regional entrants received gold or silver keys.

Alexis Payne, 16, a literary arts student at Pittsburgh CAPA, won two gold medals for her work, including one for her flash fiction piece "Save the Chicken Grease." It portrays the voice of a white American defining African American culture. Ms. Payne said she is very honored to receive these awards. "I've been getting feedback on my work in a way that wouldn't have been possible before," she said.

"Save the Chicken Grease" was published in "The Best Teen Writing," a Scholastic publication distributed to educational institutions for free.

A recent reception for the exhibition was also a night to remember a life cut short.

Emma Munson, a 2012 regional winner from Wexford, died in October 2013 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.

Her painting on display, called "The Room," was a gold key winner.

Her family started the Emma Munson Memorial to support the National Forest Foundation, in honor of her love for nature.

Patrick Hulse, 18, is a senior from South County High School in Lorton, Va. His "Perfection," a multimedia piece about 1950s propaganda, won a gold medal. "Looking at propaganda of that time, everything is so perfect and serious," Mr. Hulse said. "That's when I thought to recreate it as humorous and imperfect."

Nikki Pena: or 412-263-1280.

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