February 5, 2022


Three Young Visual Artists from Orange City, Treynor, and Urbandale High Schools Recognized for Outstanding Work by the University of Iowa Grant Wood Art Colony

[IOWA CITY, IOWA, February 5, 2022] — Saturday, March 5, the University of Iowa’s Grant Wood Art Colony will award the Grant Wood Legacy Prize to three outstanding high-school visual artists: Siyu Chen (Unity Christian High School, Orange City), Maisy Wasenius (Treynor Junior Senior High School), and Emma Isenhart (Des Moines Christian School, Urbandale).

“The Grant Wood Legacy Prize enables the University of Iowa to discover young Iowa artists to encourage their talent,” said Maura Pilcher, Grant Wood Art Colony Director.

The three prize recipients were selected from a pool of over 400 visual art entries from students across the state. Current Grant Wood Fellows Johnathan Payne and Elena Smyrniotis selected the winners for their demonstration of a Regional voice and skill. Judges reviewed entries from Iowa students in the media categories in which Grant Wood worked: jewelry, painting, drawing and illustration, printmaking, design, ceramics and glass, and mixed media. The Grant Wood Legacy Prize is a collaboration with the Belin-Blank Center, which serves as the affiliate for the Iowa and Midwest Region-at-Large Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

The Grant Wood Art Colony established the Grant Wood Legacy Prize in 2016 in honor of Iowa’s most famous artist. Grant Wood was a lifelong-educator, from his early years teaching at Cedar Rapids’ McKinley Junior High in the 1920s to the Stone City Art Colony of the 1930s and until his death while a University of Iowa faculty member. The Grant Wood Art Colony, committed to continuing the legacy of Grant Wood, promotes Wood’s passion for education and developing young artists.

Grant Wood Legacy Prize winners and their educators will be recognized at the Annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards ceremony (online) on March 5, 2022. Winners will receive a scholarship to the Belin-Blank Summer Art Residency in the summer of 2022.


Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa recognizes original creative work by Iowa students every year through the Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. This is the country's longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative students in grades 7–12. This program year, more than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted to 100 Affiliate regions across the country. As one of the largest national affiliates, the Belin-Blank Center adjudicated over 7,000 pieces of art and writing from the Iowa and Midwest Regions. Since the program’s founding in 1923, the Awards have fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students, including renowned alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields, such as Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Philip Pearlstein, and Sylvia Plath. More recently, Stephen King, Richard Linklater, Zac Posen, and Lena Dunham received Scholastic Art & Writing Awards when they were teens.


Siyu Chen, Radiant, 2022

Siyu Chen, Time and Tide, Painting. Grade 12, Unity Christian School, Orange City, IA. Belin-Blank Center, Affiliate; 2022 Gold Key; 2022 Grant Wood Legacy Prize.












Maisy Wasenius, Radiant, 2022

Maisy Wasenius, Radiant, Printmaking. Grade 11, Treynor Junior Senior High School, Treynor, IA. Belin-Blank Center, Affiliate; 2022 Gold Key; 2022 Grant Wood Legacy Prize.












Emma Isenhart, 7,881 miles, 2022

Emma Isenhart, 7,881 miles, Drawing & Illustration. Grade 12, Des Moines Christian School, Urbandale, IA. Belin-Blank Center, Affiliate; 2022 Gold Key; 2022 Grant Wood Legacy Prize.