Announcing! The 2019 Art Writing Challenge Winners

Artblog is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Art Writing Challenge! Stay tuned for the winning writings, which we will publish in the next few weeks.

Artblog New Writers Contest keyboard
Image courtesy Matt Kalasky.

Dear Readers,

At Artblog, we believe that publicly recognizing excellence and innovation in local art writing makes the entire Philadelphia cultural ecosystem stronger, and we consider the cash prizes a symbol of how seriously we take the work that arts writers do. Our long-time Artblog supporter, Advisor and Board member, Mari Shaw has generously supported the cash prizes in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and the 2019 prizes, announced below, include a new category, music writing in addition to the art category. All cash prize winners and winners will have their writings published on Artblog in the coming weeks. Congratulations, all!

A big “Thank You” to everyone who submitted, as well as to this year’s distinguished panel of judges: Art: Judith Stein, Li Sumpter and Richard Torchia; Music: Catherine Cahill, Matías Tarnopolsky and Peter Dobrin.

The Art Writing Challenge was co-founded by The St. Claire and Artblog in 2015 to encourage experimentation in local art writing and to bring undiscovered talent to the fore through a blind, democratic selection process. 2019 was the fifth year of the Challenge, and as in other years, the contest has attracted writers of all ages and walks of life from across the region. The reviews, poetry and essays that we received this cycle addressed a wide-range of topics and approaches, from reviews of museum and gallery exhibitions to autobiographical narratives. We even had a play submitted. We are delighted by the depth and breadth of the responses to the Challenge.

The best art criticism uses language creatively to help us navigate our complex (and often non-verbal) experiences of objects, images, sounds and bodies in motion. Recognizing that no experience is universal, it also empowers us to reflect on our individual histories, values and relationships to community. This year’s winners do all that and more. As in previous years, we hope the 2019 Challenge will be a springboard to other writing opportunities for these exciting voices.



Art Writing Prize $1,000  – Levi Bentley

Art Writing Prize $250 – Victoria Huynh
Song Lang, A World of Refugee Memory

Honorable Mention in Art Writing

  • Kinaya Hassane
    Triumphs and Shortcomings of 30 Americans
  • Dereck Mangus
    Searching for God
  • Logan Cryer
    Louder Promises
Rush Jackson
    Some Do Not Need the Ground
  • Diedra Krieger
    Reflection: Plastic Fantastic at Tiny Room for Elephants Festival 2019
  • Dominique Ellis
    Reflections on Philadelphia Then


Music Writing Prize $1,000 – Samuel McLaughlin
Eternity’s Music

Music Writing Prize $250 – Francxs Nan
Find Your Breakbeat Free It

Juror’s Prize – $150 – Rose Deslorges
Music and All Its Glory

Honorable Mention in Music Writing

  • Terri Lyons
    Thursday Night Rehearsal
  • Lisa Anderson Bongers
    Opera Not Just for Old White Folks Anymore
  • Koi Patrick
    String Theory Kimmel Center Concert
  • Linda Holt
    Mozart’s Requiem and the Velveteen Rabbit
  • Linda Holt
    Romeo and Juliet and Tristan and Isolde