Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Eyes on the Prize: Jonathan Olivares Paramo and Athena Nassar

Loribelle Lapaix  //  Apr 3, 2019

Eyes on the Prize: Jonathan Olivares Paramo and Athena Nassar

The 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards recently recognized 16 high school seniors who received the program’s highest national honor, the Gold Medal Portfolio, which includes a $10,000 scholarship.

Throughout April and May, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify students with exceptional artistic and literary talent and present their remarkable work to the world through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, will highlight two Gold Medal Portfolio recipients on their blog. This week, they are celebrating the work of Jonathan Olivares Paramo (Vista, CA) and Athena Nassar (Interlochen, MI). 

Jonathan Olivares Paramo 

As a photographer, Jonathan found inspiration in Mexican culture and the daily lives of the people around him. 

“For my photos, I had many aspirations. I did not know what to do at the beginning. My main idea was to take pictures of the region where I live. What I had in mind was that it was the way of the neighbors or their daily life . . . I thought about taking half of the photos in Tijuana, then the other half here in Vista. For the photos that were taken in Tijuana, I thought about the Mexican culture.”


Athena Nassar

“My poetry is largely inspired by events and people in my life that have impacted me. Sometimes I also draw inspiration from my dreams. Ever since I discovered Stephen King, I’ve been obsessed with writing realistic horror stories involving crime and murder—the unimaginable. Sometimes reality is boring, and I think it’s healthy to shake things up a little every once in a while.”

rind by Athena Nassar

don’t bite into a pineapple if its succulent scent       clings
to your taste buds        she said. the sticky sweet dew drips
into your core, but the juice is     sour on the tongue. his skin
crisp to the touch. is this too sweet? someone pinch me. i kneel
on grains of salt and he cups his hand over my mouth, muffling
the sound of hand-me-down      cries. swallowed butter has gone rancid
cutting the insides of my cheeks. pineapple slices dripping       acid
onto the roof of my mouth. i prick my finger trying to peel the rind.
i always did all the talking. insect guts spill out of his sour center
that once        had a succulent scent. a soup of black      beetles and fleas.
don’t run before        he walks. i told you. my mother sets a steaming plate
of barbed chicken        wire in front of me. check inside before sinking
your teeth into your tropical        tombstone. there may be a boneyard
under your feet.

To see more Gold Medal Portfolio recipients, past and present, visit the Eyes on the Prize series on the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers blog.

Cover photo: Jonathan Olivares Paramo, Flores de Cementerio, Photography Photo in body: Jonathan Olivares Paramo, Corte de Pelo, Photography