Submissions by 11 New Tampa teenagers were chosen as award winners in the 2022 Hillsborough Region Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Exhibition. Of more than 1,200 entries, judges chose 231 art awards and 95 writing awards.

Wharton High senior Brianna Lee picked up three photography awards, including Three Bodies (right) being chosen as one of just five American Visions Nominees. The nominees are chosen from among all Gold Key winners, and one of the five will be selected the overall winner by a national panel. Brianna won a second Gold Key award for Caked On Disguise, and Faultless was chosen as a Silver Key winner.

Brianna describes their artwork as inspired by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, lust and beauty. 

“There are only two models in this picture: one model with a beautiful full figure with well-defined curves and the other with a tall, slim frame,” she says. “By overlapping the two photos of the two different body types creates a semi-distorted, unusually small body in the middle. This is also another body type that some people strive to change themselves to. I hope this work can show that there really is no perfect body type and that it will constantly change time and time again, and no one should feel the need to change along with it.”

Gold Key winners will be submitted to the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in New York City, where they could be selected as national winners and recognized in a ceremony this summer.

Several other Wharton students also were recognized:

• Sabrina Valencia won a Gold Key award for the digital art piece Body Water, which also won a Judges’ Award, and a Silver Key award for Dyssoconnected.

• Taylor Vanderpuyl won a Gold Key award for the photograph We Eat the Mushroom The Mushroom Eats Us which also won a Judges’ Award, and an Honorable Mention for Megan

• Terance Eady won a Gold Key award for the photograph The Vulnerability of Black Men

Honorable Mentions were awarded to Isabella Ancheta for the photograph Reflections and to Pranshu Modi for the painting Tokyo

These students are all taught by Wharton art teacher Curt Steckel.

Honorable Mentions also were awarded to Benito Middle School students in the drawing and illustration category. 

• Ananya Dongre won for The one who makes me smile and Frances McKoen won for Medieval Battle.

These students are taught by art teacher Cheyenne Causby.

Freedom High had three writing award winners, all taught by English teacher Robert Counts. 

Frankie Vilsaint won a Silver Key award for his dramatic script The Egg Thief

In the science fiction and fantasy category, two students were awarded an Honorable Mention, Haileigh Mereness for Beating Hearts and Jayden Mujica for Dark World

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, established in 1923, is the longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the United States and claims to be the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers. Previous winners include Stephen King and Andy Warhol.

This is the eighth year that the Hillsborough County Public Schools and the Hillsborough Education Foundation are serving as the regional affiliate for the national award program.

The Hillsborough Region Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards virtual awards ceremony is available online at These and other award-winning works are on display at the University of Tampa’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery (310 North Blvd., Tampa) through Friday, March 25. The gallery is open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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