Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Eyes on the Prize: Zaria Dudley and Malachi Jones

Josephine Djonovic  //  Apr 13, 2018

Eyes on the Prize: Zaria Dudley and Malachi Jones

This year's 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 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 showcase two Gold Medal Portfolio recipients on their blog. This week, they are celebrating the work of Malachi Jones (North Charleston, SC) and Zaria Dudley (Wahiawa, HI).

Malachi Jones

"My portfolio is an attempt to gather each piece of me and combine it into one. Each piece carries personal significance, but I only use myself as a vessel to address larger scale themes. One of my mentors calls it, "taking us from Kansas to Oz and from Oz to Kansas." Forget Us Not is a collection alerting the reader that Black America isn't in a state of revival or a trend. It's more than a community you make amends with at award shows or election cycles. Black America was/is/will be here—but perhaps not always heard, so don't forget us."

Zaria Dudley

“It is my intention to produce photographs that showcase the positive aspects of the African American community. I am eager to examine the lifestyle and culture of African American families. My goal is to have people view my work and change their perspective about a southern black family. Many photos of African Americans lack their rich culture, urban life, changes, family, and involvement in the world. We have large house and small cottages. We have doctors, soldiers, teachers, and engineers. I do not simply document their lives, but more so tell their story. Every image creates an emotion that allows you to feel as if you are being included in the moment. My subjects emit vivid expressions and give/voice dialogue.

My photographs come from the inspiration of family and the lifestyle they live in the rural parts of Alabama. With the click of my shutter button and the adjustment of my exposures I capture snippets of a family.”

Scroll down for samples from their award-winning portfolios!


Shooting Pebbles at the Sun By Malachi Jones

Poetry. Grade 12, Age 17, Charleston County School of the Arts, North Charleston, SC.

A child, the residue of sweet
soda fresh on his lips and streaked
across his chest, draws back
the crag of rock he found
in a shallow pond.

His tongue and body keep still
while a truth—not fantasy— travels
to his ears, one his Grandmother,
her mind now peeling away
like the bark of birch trees, could not
provide. He had asked

why his mother’s skin was lighter than
his own. Hers: the likeness of autumn
leaves. His: the complexion of dirt.
Mother: a day’s end marked with mellow
setting rays. Son: constellations held
together by a darkness. But his
grandmother had told him things.

His mother’s absence didn’t mean he was loved
less. Mother nature kissed him more than any
mother could. She could claim to be lighter but
mud has never caked her toes. She never
swam with tadpoles or felt mosquitos’ nips,
prefers the women’s shelter, but saw a home more
fitting for her child. The old woman had given
him something less tangible than her
stories. God’s sun just loves ya more chile. Wants ta
always be around you is all. Ask him yaself.
Go ahead ask if ya don’t believe me.

Another fragment of gravel
propels from the boy’s slingshot,
its slick surface slipping from his fingertips.

Praying it reaches its target, limitless
in size but distant in space.


Bre & Laila by Zaria Dudley

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.