Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Eyes on the Prize: Hallie Wilson and Sophia Zhao

Loribelle Lapaix  //  May 23, 2019

Eyes on the Prize: Hallie Wilson and Sophia Zhao

The 2019 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.

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, highlights two Gold Medal Portfolio recipients weekly. This week, they are celebrating the work of Hallie Wilson (Richmond, VA) and Sophia Zhao (Wilmington, DE).

Hallie Wilson

“The pieces I chose for my portfolio are all unified under one idea. In today’s society, we have become completely reliant on technology, and often forget that everything used to be done by hand. I honestly can’t remember the last time I looked up information in a book instead of using Google . . . I created these pieces to bring awareness that people today, including myself, are completely reliant on technology. Society needs to realize this and understand that skills and techniques are being lost to technology. I fear that if we don’t do this, later generations aren’t going to know how to do anything by themselves. Will we still be human if we can’t do anything by hand?” 

Sophia Zhao

“Here, I write to remember what I have lost over the years— historically, culturally, and personally. I am inspired by my Chinese heritage, which includes the stories my relatives retell, as well as my past and present struggles with being American-Born Chinese (ABC). I am also compelled to write about death and illness, realities I have been out of touch with until now. Writing has transformed language into memoir, a realm where I can both celebrate and critique, compelling me to speak and study with hard consideration and empathy. When readers experience my work, I want them to feel not a truth, but a perspective that is poignant but powerful, hopeless but hopeful. Through my work, I seek out revival in the complexities within myself—and ultimately—my connection to humanity.”

Qingsong Children by Sophia Zhao (poetry)

This past year I visited a Chinese orphanage. The building itself was quaint, speckled with greenery and hand-painted murals, divided into libraries and miniature classrooms. It was surprisingly pleasant.

I asked an orphan if she liked it here. She twirled back and forth on her two slippered feet, then ran away.


At daybreak, daffodil and gerbera lip the concrete wall,
one line whole, curled up stemless beside the oaken tree.
The children awake rootless, old husks still
worn and stepping barefoot onto chilled mulch. They

spread across in the sandbox, retracing dampen soil into
fimbriate frames; unearthing names that were once
eroded away by a fateful wind. A gallery: where the
daughters and sons siphon off nectar from

the whiteness of lilies— indefinite and incised,
unmangled by the insects when hung to dry.
They devour peaches as devotions, then

search for another ripeness in their phased blossoms;
outside rosy fringe, escaping from its heart
pure soreness, slowly dripping. The pavement stains,
bitter branched rivulets flowing from serrate veins into

unfillable fissures; yet ground remains arid and
hooked to earth. Cicadas chirr the still forest.
In the warmth of dusk, the children

shadow into segments. They creep to the meadow,
crouching into supple bulbs, arms elbow-deep in
rigid dirt. Like rough gardeners— unburying themselves

as the seedless: a kindred order decaying
among the golden buttercups.

Translator’s Notes
轻松 (Qīngsōng) [adj.] – relaxed, relieved.


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 image: HALLIE WILSON, Printer People, Sculpture.Image in body: HALLIE WILSON, Record People, Sculpture.