Perpich News

Erin O’Daniel (Visual Arts 2023) Named 2023 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Silver Medalist

Erin O’Daniel (Visual Arts 2023), National Silver Medalist in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

March 24, 2023

The nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers has announced its 100th annual class of National Medalists in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards—the nation’s longest running and most prestigious program for creative teens in grades 7-12. Perpich Arts High School is thrilled to announce that Erin O’Daniel (Visual Arts 2023) has received a Silver Medal!

“I know a lot of art entries were overlooked, so to be one of the ones picked for any medal is a really big honor,” said O’Daniel.

Erin’s submitted piece, “Holding On”, has significant meaning for her. “The Universe has hit our family pretty hard in life and we’ve struggled, so this piece was an expression of that time. Two weeks before this school year started, my dad got into a bike accident and suffered from a traumatic brain injury. He was unconscious in the hospital for most of the beginning of my senior year here. It was a really tough time, and honestly, I felt really lost during that time. The only thing I was able to hang onto was my art, specifically the summer self-reflection project. My dad was featured in that piece so having to visit his tube-stuffed body every week while simultaneously painting his past, ‘healthy’ self was conflicting. I didn’t know if my dad was gonna make it out the same, so having my art to help me slowly come to terms with the changes in my life gave me the chance not to fall into this pit of depression. The piece I submitted was a representation of my relationship with my mom at the time. We’re both strong women with tough exteriors, but at the end of 2022, it felt like we were broken and weak, so the subject of my piece ‘Holding On’ is myself clinging to my mother as she covers me.”

Erin O’Daniel’s submitted piece, “Holding On”, received a National Silver Medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Cameron Browne, Visual Arts Instructor and Gallery Coordinator, has been an inspiration for O’Daniel with her art. “Erin is an incredibly hardworking artist and has explored a number of different ways she wants to tell stories through her illustrations,” said Browne. “I’m also humbled that Erin shares her own experiences through her art. It is powerful and illuminating to express what is happening inside yourself. Work like Erin’s helps us relate to each other in a deeper way.”

Kathryn D’Elia, Visual Arts Instructor and Gallery Coordinator, said, “Erin created this artwork for a sketchbook assignment in my figure drawing class with the intention of creating an artwork where the pose of the figure(s) conveys the concept of the artwork, rather than relying on facial expression or other methods of communication. Erin’s solution to this assignment, where we get no faces, has a real sense of gravity, a pull and connection between the two figures who create a new form together. The figures are stooped, folded, and reaching, and absorbed in deep emotion. The lighting and analogous color scheme heightens the drama, and we feel this lower figure living in the shadow of the figure standing above. For me, a light joyful spot in this work is the one loosely-worn white sock grounding the standing figure, providing a very human contrast to the impact of the scene. I think this work is very successful and deserving of this recognition, and Erin has been a tremendous creative force and hard worker for the entirety of her time here at Perpich. I’m very proud of her accomplishments and those of the other Perpich students who also made wonderful creative strides this year.”

Erin is from North Minneapolis, MN and is the child of Maria and Lee O’Daniel. She previously attended Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, MN.

Student participation in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is up 15% from 2022, with more than 100,000 teens from U.S. territories, Canada, and every state in the nation participating in this year’s Awards, submitting over 300,000 works of art and writing. Works by more than 40,000 teens received regional recognition, and nearly 2,000 works earned national awards. There were 32 students from Minnesota that received national medals.

Chris Wisniewski, Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, said: “Since its inception 100 years ago, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards has been a one-of-a-kind program that encourages the passions, talents, and perspectives of millions of teens from across the nation. Every year, we at the Alliance are ceaselessly amazed and impressed with the creative output of our country’s teens, and this year is no exception. Today, we are making Awards history by welcoming our centennial class of national medalists, who will be celebrated for their creative prowess, candor, and ingenuity. They’re worthy successors to the visionary alumni of the program who came before them, while pointing the way toward the future of American creative life.”

For 100 years, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have been a safe space for teens to fearlessly explore their creative abilities and interests. The program has validated and championed teen voices and has served as a launching pad for bolstering students’ artistic and literary futures by providing them with access to scholarship programs and workshops, as well as the ability to have their work published and displayed in regional and national exhibitions. To learn more, and to find a complete list of the 2023 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards national award winners, visit:

About the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and are made possible through the generosity of Scholastic Inc., New York Life Foundation, The Maurice R. Robinson Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Command Companies, The Herb Block Foundation, Quad and The Windhover Foundation, BLICK Art Materials, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, The New York Times, Don’t Hide It, Flaunt It, RBC Foundation USA, Morgan Stanley, ChangeCX, Lindenmeyr Book Publishing Papers, Garcia Family Foundation, and numerous other individual, foundation, and corporate funders; and, for the National Student Poets Program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Hearthland Foundation, Poetry Foundation, and Academy of American Poets. 

For more information about the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, visit Additional details about the Awards can be found in the Scholastic media room: