Jan. 29, 2014/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu


 Fifteen students win 76 awards

WINSTON-SALEM – Students in the Visual Arts Program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts have earned an unprecedented 76 awards at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s most prestigious program for recognizing artists in grades 7 through 12.  UNCSA artists earned 11 gold keys, 36 silver keys and 29 honorable mentions.

The winners from UNCSA are:

Julian Barlow of Raleigh, one gold key, one silver key, one honorable mention;

Sara Behnke of Graham, one honorable mention;

Emerald Bender of Winston-Salem, one gold key, one silver key;

Astrid Blurr of Chapel Hill, eight honorable mentions;

Mikaela Darnell of Shelby, eight silver keys;

William Greene of Salisbury, one gold key;

Elizabeth Huttman of Hickory, one honorable mention;

Virginia Li of Cary, five gold keys, nine silver keys;

Gabriel Luciani of Charlotte, eight honorable mentions;

Gabriel McGee of Wilmington, one gold key;

Rachel O'Connor of Hickory, eight honorable mentions;

Madeleine Popkin of Chapel Hill, eight silver keys;

Cassie Sun of Cary, one gold key, one silver key, two honorable mentions;

Hayley Vinson of Garner, eight silver keys;

Jennifer Xiao of Concord, one gold key.

“This is incredible,” said Joseph P. Tilford, Dean of the School of Design and Production, which encompasses the Visual Arts Program. “Nearly half of our 35 Visual Arts students were recognized.  We have a fantastic group of students this year. Their talent and discipline, combined with expert instruction and guidance of our faculty, have led to this success,” he said.

Will Taylor, Director of the Visual Arts program, noted that students were recognized in a variety of arts media including drawing, painting, design, fashion, sculpture, printmaking, digital art, mixed media, and film and animation.

“In attending a multidisciplinary arts campus, our students' talents and experiences become extremely diverse,” he said. “Their accolades reflect a remarkable work ethic, a professional demeanor, and a tremendous commitment to their craft. The Visual Arts faculty and I are extremely proud,” Taylor added.

The regional competition of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards was held recently at Barton College in Wilson. An awards ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 at Barton College. The honored Gold Key works of art will be on exhibit at Barton Feb. 2 through 21, and will be exhibited later in New York with Gold Key-winning works of art from all regions.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the nation’s most prestigious recognition program for artists and writers. The program identified the early promise of Richard Avedon, Joyce Maynard, Tom Otterness, Philip Pearlstein, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates, Andy Warhol, and Zac Posen.  Since 1979, Barton College has hosted the Awards for the largest regional district in the state, currently with 62 counties from Winston-Salem to the Coast.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.