Stivers student featured by PBS, wins major award

Curiosity, imagination and a keen eye for art undoubtedly helped a local teen win a prestigious award and a PBS feature story 

Stivers School for the Arts senior Nyanna Johnson is the subject of the PBS NewsHour article  "A photographer's quest to uncover the story of an abandoned building" for her gripping photo story "Patchwork."

The photo story won Nyanna the Gold Medal Portfolio Prize at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and a $10,000 college scholarship.

The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers honors just 16  high school seniors from around the nation with the Gold Medal Portfolio Prize, its highest honor for art and writing.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards were founded in 1923.

Past teen winners include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Robert Redford Joyce Carol OatesRichard Avedon, Philip Pearlstein, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Richard Linklater, Zac Posen and Lena Dunham.

A record 320,000 submissions were judged this year on a regional level for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards' 29 categories including include poetry, photography, sculpture, humor, editorial cartoons and video game design.

Nyanna, the daughter of Alexis and Erik Johnson, will be part of the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 2.

Her portfolio will be display at Parsons The New School for Design June 2- 12 to kick off the traveling art exhibition  "Art.Write.Now.Tour 2016-17."

We are planning an interview with Nyanna. 

A choir student at Stivers, Nyanna became interested in her school's darkroom her freshman year, the PBS story says.

She used her 12-year-old sister as a model in the story that examines an abandoned building.

This from the NewsHour story:

" 'Old buildings have a story to me,' she said. 'I like thinking about what might have taken place there, or who lived there, what time of work that this building might have had, and I tell a story from that.' To find the backstory of this building, she went looking for clues. 'went and explored, looked around, trying to figure out what happened there.'

She found old basketballs, teddy bears, the recreational remnants of what may have been a family. Left with little information and the toys in her hands, she built the story of a young girl who had maybe lived there. A dancer. 'She came home and found her house had burned down and everything that she had and loved was gone," she said.'"

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