UI hosts high school artists and writers in residency programs

The UI Belin-Blank Center hosts an immersive three-week summer residency program for high school artists and writers.


Tian Liu

Sen. Zach Wahls and his sister Zebby Wahls speak about their playing cards, The Woman Cards, during a meeting with the Belin-Blank summer residency program at Old Brick on July 15, 2019. They spoke with students about the starting their own business.

Tian Liu, News Reporter

Students from all over the U.S. have flocked to the University of Iowa to learn from the writing and art programs. 

Sixty high school students are attending an immersive three-week summer residency program at the UI hosted by the Belin-Blank Center. This program is broken up into two sections, the Summer Art Residency and Summer Writing Residency.

“These students are the best high school artists and writers across the country,” said David Gould, the administrator at the UI Belin-Blank Center. “We sent out invitations to award winners of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards every year.” 

According to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards website, this program is the longest running and “most prestigious” program that recognizes creative students in grades 7-12. 

The group took over the Old Brick on Monday night to meet. The meeting had three sections, with two talks and one discussion. Three guest speakers spoke, including UI associate professor Rachel Williams, Iowa State Sen. Zach Wahls and his sister, artist Zebby Wahls. 

Angela Ge, a student from South Carolina, said she came here last year for the inaugural writing program because of the invitation she received. She loved her experience, so she came back again this year for the art program. 

In the art program, Ge said she has always done traditional art, like drawing and painting. The other people here have opened her eyes to new methods, she said. Although they use the same median as her, they use them in a different way.

“The best part of the program is expanding my creativity and getting to know people from different backgrounds,” Ge said.

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But the invitations would only help these award winners to gain priority on the application process, Jan Warren, assistant director for Student Services at the Belin-Blank Center, said. They still have to submit complex applications with multiple materials, including two recommendations, essays, and several work samples. 

“These high school students are around 16 years old,” Warren said. “To send them halfway around the country, or halfway around the world is something needed to be carefully considered.” 

Ge said, as a returner, she found out her experience is even better than last year because they can interact with each other more at a slower pace. 

Gould said the most special part of the program is the opportunity it gives some of the arguably top high school writers and artists in the country to get together and meet their peers. 

Yeukai Zimbwa is a student from Minnesota, and she said she loves the program. It perfectly meets her expectations and provides her the opportunity to interact with other writers and to learn. 

“I have done a lot of writings different from what I would do at home. Just because the teachers and staff push me to go outside [my] comfort zone and write in ways that I have never done before,” Zimbwa said.  

Warren said she believed these students are the next generation of America’s best writers and artists. They will be future adults that impact the country culturally and politically through their art and writing. 

“I’m more seriously considering to pursue writing as a career now after I came here,” Zimbwa said.