US Presenditial Scholar In the Arts
NOCCA Visual Arts Senior Selected As U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
One of 20 Students Nationwide Selected For Prestigious Arts Honor
Only Student From Louisiana Selected in Arts
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) is extremely proud to share the news that current graduating Visual Arts senior (partner academic school Hammond High Magnet), Khalil McKnight has received the most prestigious arts award and has been selected one of 20 students from across the United States as a 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts recipient. Khalil received his nomination to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program following National YoungArts Week.
Michel Varisco, NOCCA Chair of Visual Arts, shares, “In my 27 years of teaching Khalil stands out as one of the most extraordinary students who can synthesize complex ideas successfully in any medium he’s learned- and often the content is based squarely on racial violence. Even adult artists wrestling with themes of such psycho-social violence may take a lifetime to successfully encapsulate such devastating content! And he’s 17.”
All completed and submitted U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts applications will be reviewed by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. The Commission selects 20 high school seniors to be recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts for their academic and artistic accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, community service and outreach initiatives, and overall creativity.
The YoungArts program has been identifying, recognizing and inspiring America’s most outstanding young artists since 1981.
Khalil Artist Statement
My work centers around the idea of police brutality and the inescapability of racial stereotypes. Inspired by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, I depict myself in situations where I’m either unable to be recognized as an individual, or am only recognized by the clothing I wear. Unfit to free myself from the shackles of prejudice, I look into the eyes of viewers, pleading to them, yet showing acceptance by my disposition to the inevitability of my oppression. Black hoodies and the naked, vulnerable, body are a common motif throughout my work. The juxtaposition between clothed and unclothed ironically illustrate how stereotypes strip us of our unique identities and force us to conform to society’s ideals of the black male.
Established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison, YoungArts identifies exceptional young artists, amplifies their potential, and invests in their lifelong creative freedom. YoungArts provides space, funding, mentorship, professional development and community throughout artists’ careers. Entrance into this prestigious organization starts with a highly competitive application for talented artists ages 15–18, or grades 10–12, in the United States that is judged by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process.