Youthful energy

Some things haven’t changed much since I finished high school in 1989. A lot of the artwork in the large and far-reaching Scholastic Artwork Awards of 2005 exhibit at the NMA communicates the energy, confidence and conflicts of teens finding their way as upcoming artists and upcoming adults. Influences like album covers—and the strange mix of socialibility and solitude that leads to long hours escaping to the bedroom to draw with a pen—still ring familiar.

The NMA is an awkward venue for middle- and high-school artwork, though. It’s hard to suspend expectations of museum-grade presentation and overlook bent matboard and pictures coming unglued from backings.

On the flip side, it’s hard not to be inspired by the cultural mixes, broad-ranging art-history references, technological sophistication and media-barrage-colored viewpoints—updated substantially since 1989— each teen brings to the project.

This generation of artists’ pluralist edge should yield an interesting “next big thing.”