WHS senior receives national recognition for a creative photograph

Post date: Jun 01, 2021 12:1:35 PM

Earlier this year, Lilly Arbelo, a senior at Wells High School, received a prestigious Gold Key award in the national portion of the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. This is for a creative photograph of hers titled, “Gentle Suffocation”. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition is presented annually by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

“I was really excited,” said Arbelo recalling the day when she first learned of this honor from her art teacher Emily Knight. “I remember I was kind of having a rough day and then my teacher, Miss Knight (called).” According to Arbelo, both she and Knight shed a few tears while discussing this news. “I did not expect this at all,” said Arbelo.

“From the 230,000 artworks submitted to this year’s competition, Lilly is one of approximately 800 students who will receive the National Gold Key Distinction,” commented teacher Knight in an email. “This is an exciting and well-deserved recognition of Lilly’s hard work and talent.” According to Knight, six Maine students received a National Gold Key Award this year.

According to Arbelo, she experienced PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) during her freshman and sophomore years resulting from a lingering situation that gave her the sensation of subtle suffocation. It was that experience that inspired her to create a photo demonstrating her apparent torment and frustration. To create that effect visually she used an old camera of her father’s, some LED lighting of hers, and an ordinary trash bag to illustrate how suffocating that experience was for her. “I didn’t expect it would get this far,” said Arbelo who plans to study Art at the University of Maine in Orono.

In February the WHS Art Department announced that nine students including Arbelo had received a combined total of 13 awards in the Maine Region Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition. In the regionals, Arbelo received a Gold Key in Photography, a Silver Key in Painting and an Honorable Mention in Photography. Those that receive a Gold Key at the regional level are invited to compete nationally.

Normally, an in-person ceremony honoring National Gold and Silver Key Award winners takes place in New York City. However, this year’s ceremony will be a virtual one held online on YouTube on June 9, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

Founded in 1923, the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition is described on its website (www.artandwriting.org/awards) as, “The nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens.” The contest is open to 7th through 12th grade students and is organized regionally by the Maine College of Art in Portland.

Wells High School senior Lilly Arbelo and her National Gold Key Award winning photo, “Gentle Suffocation"