“This is so inspiring to see such brilliant talent that comes through our public school system and is embraced by the city as a whole,” said Levin before he and Williams presented Paul with his award. “I want to thank Colossal Media for making it so public and large and visible to show our community that this is what we have here.”
Williams made sure to congratulate not only Paul for his accomplishment, but also his mother for her contribution to the success of her son as he prepares to embark on his own path as a newly graduated young artist. He also took the opportunity to promote arts and culture in his district.
“I always say there’s a lot of good culture and artwork south of Eastern Parkway, and I want to thank Steven for making that visible,” Williams said.
Paul didn’t only impress the judges in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards annual competition, where he was selected as a national gold medalist, but also the selection committee at Colossal Media, who decided to partner with Scholastic to create a mural in South Williamsburg using student art.
The mural was hand-painted by former Scholastic winners and Colossal Media resident artists Jason Jarosz and Dave Barnett.
Jen Edelberg, vice president of creative sales at Colossal Media, was very excited to work with Paul on the mural project, and looks forward to working with him as one of their official photographers on the West Coast when he moves to California for college in the fall.
“We continue to be inspired by the community’s tremendous reception of this larger-than-life photograph,” Edelberg said. “This is a space that we curate with art, and the intention is to leave this up until someone comes along with another one, but we have hope it lives on for a long time.”
For Paul, the experience of having his photograph made into a large-scale mural is one that is unfolding over time, with every day bringing new excitement.
“Each day that passes I will go through social media and see people sharing pictures of it. This means more to me every day,” he said. “Not everyone gets this opportunity.”
Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and facilitator for the 92-year-old Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, pointed out that SAW awards have been a part of the development of many great artists in the past, including Andy Warhol and Truman Capote.
Levin was also an award winner in his time, and said the award was an important part of his personal development.
“I remember it being a major validation for me as a high school student who was interested in art that there can be recognition out there, that your hard work and passion can be recognized and honored by others,” Levin said.