Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Teen Media Awards

 By Ashley Priore- 11th Grade, The Ellis School

Teen Media Awards at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on August 10th

Teen Media Awards at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on August 10th

        On Wednesday, August 10th the Pittsburgh community gathered at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Main Branch to celebrate local artist’s work at the annual Teen Media Awards.  While the work submitted to the contest speaks volumes of maturity, experience, and lessons learned, these artists are middle and high school students from grades six to twelve in Allegheny County.  


The Teen Media Awards are a part of the many ways the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh engages the youth audience and celebrates the hidden talents of the community. The Labsy and Ralph Munn Creative Writing Awards pay tribute to teens who have created original artworks. Submissions for this event went up earlier this summer, and with a contest rule of only two entries total, teenagers were free to let their creative minds shine. The Labs at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations were available for teens to use, refine, and test their work.   


The night began at 6:30pm with several families gathering outside of the Lecture Hall to sign in, relax, and enjoy the food before the awards ceremony officially began at 7:30pm.  During the reception, teen musicians performed their original songs for the crowd, which also included library staff who work for the Teen Services in Carnegie Library branches. As the reception came to a close, Mary Frances Cooper, President and Director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, gave a welcoming speech explaining how creativity is such a wonderful gift, and the teens who submitted expressed this perfectly.  


The keynote address was given by hip hop artist and activist Jasiri X, who told his story about racism, media, and 1Hood. At a young age, Jasiri X stated that he experienced “in your face racism” while at school in Pittsburgh. Like many of the teens who submitted to the Labsy Awards, Jasiri X didn’t let violence overcome action, despite many saying if he wrote about his experiences with racism, it wouldn’t work because “controversial rap doesn’t sell.” He decided to unite the community of African American men who suffered from poverty, homelessness, and police brutality to make change together. Jasiri X writes powerful songs about racial tension and injustice recently focusing on Shawn Bell. He commented that he “was lied to” when people said that his rap songs wouldn’t mean much. Jasiri X has made an impact on thousands of lives through his rap, and he decided that “enough is enough” with the media bias against black people. Jasiri started 1Hood, and according to, it is a “collective of socially conscious artists and activists who utilize art as a means of raising awareness about social justice matters [a]ffecting people around the world.” Jasiri X ended with this, “everyone is a media maker…[and has the] opportunity to tell [their] own story.”

Jasiri X tells his story

Jasiri X tells his story

After this powerful speech, the ceremony of the Labsy and Ralph Munn Creative Writing Awards began with the categories as follows: photography, filmmaking, screenwriting, 2D art and design, Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology 2017 Cover Art, 3D art and design, short prose, invention, music, poetry, and fashion. Each category has its own criteria and description.  A judge from each category, with a few being from Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Steeltown Entertainment Project Youth & Media Program, and TechShop PGH, spoke about their section, introduced the 2nd and 1st place winners, and finally allowed the students to say something about their works of art. The prizes were $250 dollars for 1st place and $150 dollars for 2nd place. Another prize was given with the purpose of continuing the student’s knowledge of media and arts. This prize usually a membership or free classes to an art or media institution.  

1st place winner for 2D art and design, Alison Pirl's "Heritage"

1st place winner for 2D art and design, Alison Pirl’s “Heritage”

Louis Suarez was the 1st winner of two awards including: screenwriting for Winterreise and the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology 2017 Cover Art. He will be attending CMU in the Fall of 2016. It was an emotional and inspiring night for many with Ben Nadler, 1st place winner for the filmmaking category with his work “The Art of Play”, stating, “[It’s] crazy and hard to believe!”  


1st place winner of the short prose category, Megan Williams said, “I had a lot of bad things happen to me at a very young age. I’m blessed to be here tonight…” before she read an excerpt from her work,“The R Word.”


The Teen Media Awards showcased the creative and brilliant minds of the participating youth.  Every category helped to erase the “typical teen” stereotype as the audience embraced the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Awards Anthology. To conclude, the night had a theme of a new generation filled with hope, change, and realization for each other’s differences.  Art and media such as this brings communities together and allows for every story to be told.  Jeff Oaks, Senior Lecturer in Poetry and Assistant Director of the Writing Program at Pitt, said, following the selection of the poetry category, “[These poems] [fill] me up with hope again…refusing what should never be accepted.”


For the list of contest winners, descriptions, and their work, go to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s website.



Ashley Priore is a rising junior at the Ellis School. She currently lives in Shadyside and has dreamed of becoming a journalist since she can remember. Ashley was a writer and editor for her school newspaper with other writing experience in the fields of nonfiction, fiction, and her favorite, poetry. She plays and teaches competitive chess with a goal of chess in the community for all, especially youth to enjoy. Ashley also enjoys reading and any leadership position. She’s excited to see what amazing opportunities are in store with PYM!

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