Getting To Know L.I.’s ‘Best Young Artists’

By Sean Austin

The top awards for the Long Island’s Best: Young Artists exhibit at Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington were recently announced. Several of the award winners hail from the Town of Huntington.

Of the 387 students from 56 high schools across Long Island who entered the competition, 84 were chosen to be a part of the gallery, which will be on display at the museum through April 9.

In addition to having their work displayed in the museum, many students also earned scholarships.

Quinn Blackburn, a Huntington High School junior, earned the Renzo S. Bianchi Scholarship for his photograph, “Infinity.”

He said the eyes are one of his favorite parts of his piece.

“I like the eyes... the galaxy surrounding the eyes and how they encapsulate her face,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn began his art career a few years ago as a high school freshman.

“I started using Photoshop in ninth grade and ever since I’ve been obsessed with it,” he said. “Everywhere I go I like to take pictures. It brings me joy.”

Ava Xu, a senior at Cold Spring Harbor High School, earned the Huntington Fine Arts Honorable Mention for her oil painting, “The Walk.”

She said the use of colors in the painting is one of her favorite aspects of it.

“I like the background to be abstract and not detailed,” she said of the piece.

Art is something that Xu has always seemed to have an interest in, she said. As a kindergartener she took a liking to art, and then when she moved up to middle school she began to learn how to put that interest to work.

Her parents were strong backers, she said. Her father, Weixin Xu, is also an artist. That had an impact on her inspiration to become one herself, she said. She also credits her mother, Yan Mao, with helping to push her to take classes to further pursue her passion in art.

Ava Xu said art is something she uses to help her through any rough times in life.

“I usually start to draw when I feel really down,” she said.

Xu also credited one her high school teachers, Christina Oswald, with pushing her to submit her art for the contest.

Alexandra Cartwright, a junior at Northport High School, earned the Achievement Award in Watercolor for her painting, “Pearl.”

She expressed that the bird featured in her painting is based off a real Albino Raven, which was one of the last four remaining in the world. She feels her strong imagination helped to inspire her affinity for drawing at a young age.

Unfortunately, due to a heavy schedule in middle school, she was unable to place any focus on art at the time. Once in high school, however, she was able to reignite her passion and begin pursuing art once more.

“I did more serious work, such as painting, not just sketching,” she said.

Cartwright credited her art teacher, Margaret Minardi, with helping to bring her back into the world of art.

“She really helped me grasp art again and that got me back into doing it, and to come to enjoy making art and appreciate how fun it is,” Cartwright said.

She is unsure where this will lead in life, but added, “I would definitely like to go into art when I grow up because I really do enjoy it.”

She continued, “It is important to have because it helps you to advance as an individual. Instead of just looking at a picture of something, you can understand the deeper meaning.”  

These students’ art, along with the art of the 81 other award winners – including “Shannon’s Story,” by Jackie Stevens, of Northport High School – will be on display at the 2 Prime Ave. museum through this Sunday.