When Archbishop McNicholas High School senior Molly Jorden travels with her family, they can be sure their route will include stops that the local tourism department would rather hide from visitors.
“I have always had a peculiar interest in old structures or mechanism, things with chipping paint, crumbling stone, or rusting metal,” Jorden said. “It is not unusual for me to ask to stop and take pictures of something that might look pretty ugly at first glance.”
A couple of years ago when Jorden and her father were driving, Jorden noticed a rusty truck in an overgrown field of wildflowers and weeds. “My dad knew exactly what I was doing when I asked him to pull over on the side of the road to take this picture,” she said.
Jorden’s roadside photograph became the inspiration for her painting Rusty Truck for which she has earned a National Gold Medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Last year, the same painting won the Congressional Art Award and was displayed in the United States Capitol throughout the summer. This June, Jorden will travel with her family and McNicholas art teacher Willy Corbett to the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Ceremony in Carnegie Hall.
“The Congressional Art Award was very exciting for me last year, and the chance to have my art hang in the Capitol was incredible,” Jorden said, “but the Scholastic Art Awards is something that I have been working towards for three years now, and I have gone farther in the competition every year. To finally reach my goal is very rewarding and humbling. It is the best possible end to my high school art career that I could imagine!”
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for students in grades 7–12. More than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted to the competition this year. Jorden’s medal places her in the top one percent of all submissions. Following the National Awards Ceremony, Rusty Truck will hang in the Parson's School of Design in New York City for two years.
Jorden credits her art and architecture classes at McNicholas with helping her develop her work. “Mr. Corbett has given me the freedom and time to explore my own artistic interests and has given me the critiques I needed to hear to continue to improve my technique. I would never have entered any of the competitions I have been a part of without his encouragement,” Jorden said. “Architecture, with its precision and Mrs. Gaskin's artistic aid, has also been a class that has contributed to my artistic endeavors.”
This fall, Jorden will attend either the University of Notre Dame or the University of Virginia to study architecture and continue painting for enjoyment. “The entire McNicholas community has been extremely supportive of me and my art,” Jorden said. “It just makes such a big difference to be surrounded by people who make it easy to pursue a passion.”