Charlotte-area writer, sculptor win top national Scholastic honors

04/15/2013 4:52 PM

04/15/2013 10:15 PM

When Maddie Bone saw the email at the end of her first-period class, she fell on the ground and started crying.

“Someone had to help me up,” said the Forestview High student body president. “I’ve never been so happy to find out news in my life.”

The email was from the folks who run the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and it informed her that she had won the American Visions award, the top honor for visual artists in the national competition.

Just three other students in North Carolina won those awards. One other, Jaclyn Burton, is from Charlotte.

Jaclyn, a senior at Charlotte Latin, won the American Voices award, the top accolade for writers, for her essay “I am a series of numbers.”

Scholastic had to sift through a record number of 230,000-plus entries for the national awards this year, said spokeswoman Angela Baggetta. Of those entries, just 1,944 received awards. Of those, 34 won the American Voices and 75 won the American Visions awards.

“They are rare,” Baggetta said.

Art in 3-D

Maddie, a Forestview senior, made her award-winning sculpture because she was forcing herself to delve into 3-D art. She’d submitted her Advanced Placement art exam her sophomore year in 2-D design, and she scored a 4 out of 5. Then she submitted a drawing portfolio her junior year and scored a 5.

Maddie said she felt that she had nothing left to do but a 3-D portfolio, and worked mostly with layered stencils and spray paint.

But when she was visiting the McColl Center for Visual Art, an artist from Japan was giving a public sculpting class. She tried it.

“In all other situations, I’ve hated it more than anything,” she said.

But she gave it a chance and sculpted a vessel of coiling clay that she smoothed down and finished with a copper-bronze glaze. She named it “Feminine Characteristics,” citing the feminine body and the hips of a woman as her inspiration.

“I had no clue it was different or unique when I finished it,” she said. “It wasn’t until more people paused and said, ‘Wow, this is really something.’ ”

She said she’s heard several interpretations of her piece – from coffee bean to crab claw – and that she actually enjoys people’s thoughts and critiques. A man once told her that he hated the sculpture.

“I loved it because it’s the good reactions that get lost,” Maddie said. “I just really enjoy when someone has a different perspective.”

An essay about numbers

At Latin, Jaclyn Burton made a submission of a different kind: An essay about numbers.

Jaclyn, who loves writing poetry, said she considers the piece more long-form poetry than an essay.

The first few sentences:

“I am a series of numbers. A birthday – 8.2.1995 – a social security number, an age. I am the person who sat in bus seat number 16 on 7.5.11 at 14:36 Athens time, and I was the 36th person to enter the room the night I met the 1 person I cannot quantify in numbers.”

Jaclyn said she was inspired while sitting on a tour bus during a family trip in Greece. “I just whipped out my phone and started writing,” she said. She wrote the first paragraph there, and now the piece is at 575 words.

“It just kind of grew,” she said.

Jaclyn writes a lot.

“I have journals and journals, and I write on my computer and app on my phone. It’s kind of binge-writing.”

She said it’s mostly stream-of-consciousness writing, in a poetic tone.

Writing slam poems are Jaclyn’s favorite. She joined a slam poetry team last year. “It’s performance poetry. When you hear it, do you have a reaction? The point is not to be aloof and hard to interpret, but direct.”

Jaclyn said she usually thinks in poetry, and that she usually only writes in poetry form, “because it just sounds better.”

Maddie and Jaclyn will go to New York City’s Carnegie Hall in May for the Scholastic awards ceremony. Maddie’s sculpture will be on display at Parsons The New School for Design, and Jaclyn said she might enter her essay for publication.

In the fall, Maddie will attend N.C. State’s College of Design. Jaclyn is still deciding on her college, and depending on where she chooses, might be eligible for a scholarship because of her American Voices award.

Maddie said she hopes other students, especially in her native Gastonia, get inspired to experiment with art.

“Everyone is creative,” she said. “You don’t have to draw a perfect portrait to be artistic.”

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