This month senior Bella Bohnsack became the third GFA student in the school’s history — and the first female GFA student — to receive a prestigious YoungArts Award.
Bohnsack received the Honorable Mention Award in Photography for her portfolio, as seen below. As part of her entry into the competition, Bohnsack included the following artist’s statement:
"My story began with death. Three years ago, on Christmas morning, my vivacious and outgoing young friend took his own life, prompting me to question how we reconcile a person that lives larger than life but chooses their own death, and how I can explore this duality through portraits of teenage experience and mental illness. As I began to shoot photograph after photograph of various models in different settings, I realized that fluidity was a way to visualize the liminality of teenage transitions from childhood to adolescence while treading the blurry lines between life and death. This and my readings about different approaches to psychology led me to explore fluidity even further through the metaphor of water and explore the psychological idea of projection through physically projecting my images onto subjects. My work took on another form during quarantine when I began to experiment with cyanotypes by printing my negative images onto vellum and then birthing the cyanotypes through water and the sun. This allowed me to express the duality of metaphors between life and death, adolescence and adulthood, through the physical duality of positive and negative prints accompanied by a melancholy blue."
GFA Visual Arts teacher Jeffrey Baykal-Rollins praised Bohnsack for the achievement, saying, “This is a really, really big deal. YoungArts has for decades been the single most prestigious competition in the United States for young artists.”
The national competition that includes submissions from artists, writers, dancers, actors, and musicians ages 15–18, grades 10–12.
According to Jewel Malone, executive director of the National YoungArts Foundation, “YoungArts empowers artists to pursue a life in the arts beginning at the critical time when many are faced with decisions about life after high school and we are thrilled to announce this year’s YoungArts award winners. This group of extraordinary artists has reminded us yet again that extraordinary artistry is ageless, and I encourage everyone to get to know these faces and names as we will be seeing them for many years to come.”
National YoungArts Foundation was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison. The foundation identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers. Winners have the opportunity to learn from leading artists such as Debbie Allen, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Frank Gehry, Wynton Marsalis, Salman Rushdie, and Mickalene Thomas.
Only two other GFA students have won a YoungArts award: Graham Manning '16 for photography and Ethan Furman '19 for music.