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2 FCAHS Students Recognized in National YoungArts Competition

Jessica Jing McCann

Two Fox Chapel Area High School students were named winners in a contest sponsored by the National YoungArts Foundation. Senior Jessica Jing McCann was named a Finalist and received a Silver Award in the Design Arts category, and sophomore Sloane Simon received an honorable mention in the Voice: Singer-Songwriter category as part of the 2021 YoungArts National Competition. Jing and Sloane are two of 659 of the most accomplished young visual, literary, and performing artists honored from across the country. 

Jing was honored for her portfolio consisting of jewelry designed to communicate how stress and anxiety impact her and others, and how it takes a toll on her mental and physical health. Her artwork is meant to serve as statement pieces. According to Jing, each piece is physically and conceptually restrictive, communicating the feeling of being trapped and caged while, at the same time, incorporating the beauty of nature found in butterflies. She also explains how the butterflies represent her attempt to obtain relief from her stress and the desire for freedom.

“I want to bring awareness to society about mental health disorders as I experience it.  I hope I can help others who are experiencing this so that they know they are not alone in this battle and they shouldn't have to feel embarrassed or guilty for experiencing anxiety and depression,” says Jing.

As a Finalist, Jing was invited to participate in National YoungArts Week. Typically presented at the YoungArts Campus in Miami, Florida, National YoungArts Week + was held virtually January 3-9. Jing convened with 142 fellow Finalists across nine other disciplines from all around the country, participated in interdisciplinary masterclasses, and learned from notable artists and mentors. On January 29, Jing was able to showcase her work to a worldwide audience, and her work can be seen here:  https://www.2021youngartsweek.org/exhibition-of-works.  She will also receive a cash prize of $5,000 for her Silver Award. 

Sloane Simon

For her entry into the Voice: Singer-Songwriter category, Sloane submitted three original songs, one titled “Seven Feet Apart” which she wrote about the frustration of quarantine; another called “The Boy Who Cried Beautiful” based on Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” but in her song, the boy cries wolf about love; and the third, titled “Laurel Canyon,” based on a documentary Sloane binged over quarantine about California music in the 1960s and 1970s. Sloane also won a cash prize.

YoungArts applicants are between the ages of 15-18 or in grades 10-12, and each winner demonstrates outstanding artistic achievement in the visual, literary, or performing arts.  Since 1981, The National YoungArts Foundation has been identifying the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, and performing arts, and providing them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

According to Jewel Malone, the executive director of the National YoungArts Foundation, YoungArts winners represent the top 8.8% of applicants and are eligible to receive valuable financial awards of up to $10,000, presentation opportunities at renowned institutions across the country, and the chance to learn from notable artists and mentors.