‘Essence of Soul’: Award-Winning Art by a Young Bronx Artist

Much of Maya Dixon’s art is inspired by life in the Bronx, like public transportation. A senior at Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Dixon took home the gold medal at the 95th Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, which includes at $10,000 scholarship, for her portfolio ‘Essence of Soul.’ (Courtesy of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers)

High school student Maya Dixon has won a $10,000 scholarship and a gold medal from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. The Ethical Culture Fieldston School senior was honored along with 15 other gold medal portfolio winners, writes Simone Johnson in The Riverdale Press. Past winners of the award have included Stephen King, Sylvia Plath and Lena Dunham.

More than 346,000 works of art and writing were submitted in the award competition. Dixon’s entry: Her “Essence of Soul” collection, which includes works that explore the spirit of the Bronx community.

In one of Dixon’s paintings, “Catch The Flava,” she drew a vendor and his icy cart, someone more commonly known to Bronx children as the “coco man.”

“It’s a simple painting, but it highlights an experience I always had when my bus driver would let us get off the bus and would let us buy from him,” Dixon said. “I feel like you can’t live in the Bronx and not see that.”

Maya Dixon (Courtesy of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers)

Dixon, who grew up in Pelham, told The Riverdale Press that she identifies with her father’s Liberian side of the family more, although her mother is a native of Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean.

Throughout her life her father has encouraged Dixon to see the value in her community and support where she comes from.

“My dad always insists that I go to the local hair braiding place instead of the gentrified parts of Harlem to get my hair done,” Dixon said. “He always emphasizes supporting local Bronx people.”

Go to The Riverdale Press to read what Dixon has to say about representation in art, artists who have inspired her, and to read about her process as an artist. Her work will be displayed in the Art.Write.Now.2018 National Exhibition on June 7 at Carnegie Hall.

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