The National YoungArts Foundation is a scholarship program designed to help talented teens, 15 to 18 years old, feel confident in their skills, get into art school and hopefully make it in the art world.
"We want to help students at this critical time in their lives when they're making these big decisions," vice president of artistic programs Lisa Leone told The Huffington Post in an interview. "We help them validate them, so they can feel good saying 'yes, I should be an artist!'"
This April, as part of the New York program, an exhibition of YoungArts' visual artwork will go on view at Sotheby's. Each student submitted 10 works, which were then narrowed down by Sotheby's curators to yield a mature and diverse range of work, from a surreal mixed media collage of floating fingers and eyes to a sponge contorted by delicate thread, reminiscent of outsider artist Judith Scott.
YoungArts recruits young adults working in 10 artistic fields: cinematic arts, dance, design, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing. Students applying to the scholarship program go through a three-tiered judging system. "Judges don't know where they're from, what they're name is, they just see the work," Leone said. "Wherever you're from it doesn't matter. They judge completely by portfolio."
Those selected participate in planned programs designed to challenge and nurture the budding artists, with help from some of the most acclaimed creatives in their respective fields. The New York program, for instance, features master teachers including artist Derrick Adams, writer Salman Rushdie, and dancer Adesola Osakalumi.
The YoungArts students' work will be on view at Sotheby's from April 15 to April 17, 2016.