Foundation names 2021 Young Arts winners

Updated 2/1/2021 11:35 AM

The National YoungArts Foundation recently announced its 2021 YoungArts Winners.

YoungArts' winners are the nation's most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts.


Selected from a competitive pool of applications and representing artists from across the country, YoungArts winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for emerging artists in the United States, offering financial, professional and artistic development opportunities over the course of their careers.

Winners are chosen for their caliber of artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process and are awarded in three categories: Finalist, Honorable Mention and Merit.

This year, YoungArts award winners at all levels receive cash prizes between $100 and $10,000.

Finalists participated virtually in "National YoungArts Week+." On Jan. 3-9, there was a week of virtual classes and workshops with notable artists for 2021 finalists. On Jan. 25-30, the foundation hosted an inspirational virtual showcase of 2021 Finalist performances, writers' readings and an exhibition.

All award winners join a 20,000-strong alumni community, made up of a rich network of peers, and are provided support and opportunities throughout their artistic careers.

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Batavia High School student Juliana Gabriel was a finalist in "Writing-Play or Script."

Other local winners include:

• Honorable Mention-Classical Music: Nicholas Boettcher, Double Bass, Naperville North High School; Ashley Kim, Piano, New Trier High School, Winnetka; and Seohyun Kim, Viola, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire.

• Honorable Mention-Film: Mariel Mudrik, Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook

• Honorable Mention-Jazz: Riichiro Fujiki, Trombone, Glenbrook South High School, Glenview; and Rufus Parenti, Saxophone/Tenor, Oak Park and River Forest High School, Oak Park

• Honorable Mention-Voice: Mary Margaret Kinney, Jazz Voice, St. Charles North High School, St. Charles; and Cora Stewart, Popular Voice, Naperville North High School, Naperville

• Merit-Design Arts: Paolo Vacala, Maine South High School, Park Ridge

• Merit-Jazz: Kellin Hanas, Trumpet, Wheaton North High School, Wheaton; Stefan Loest, Saxophone/Tenor, Glenbard South High School, Glen Ellyn; and Gage Quinn, Saxophone/Tenor, Barrington High School, Barrington


• Merit-Voice: Will Ryan III, Jazz Voice, New Trier High School, Winnetka

• Merit Award-Writing: Marion Deal, Creative Nonfiction, Downers Grove North High School, Downers Grove; James Lee, Play or Script, Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook; and Emily Liu, Poetry, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville

A complete list of the 2021 winners, all 15 to 18 years old or in grades 10 to 12, is available online at

"YoungArts empowers artists to pursue a life in the arts beginning at the critical time when many are faced with decisions about life after high school and we are thrilled to announce this year's YoungArts award winners. This group of extraordinary artists has reminded us yet again that extraordinary artistry is ageless, and I encourage everyone to get to know these faces and names as we will be seeing them for many years to come," said Executive Director Jewel Malone. "To all of this year's winners, congratulations! This is just the start of YoungArts' commitment to supporting your careers, we look forward to working to with you and supporting your artistic and professional development."

National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison. YoungArts identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers. Visit

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