Edwin Vasquez Receives 2018 Ella King Torrey Young Artist Prize

On Wednesday, May 30, Edwin Reuben Vasquez, who has attended Fleisher’s classes since age 5, received the Ella King Torrey Young Artist Prize. Vasquez, who is wrapping up eighth grade at Christopher Columbus Charter School in South Philadelphia, received the prize in recognition for his photographic talents.

The prize, which carries a $1,000 award, was created by Ella King’s mother, Ella Russell Torrey, in 2008. The prize celebrates Ella’s joy, excitement, and commitment to artists by encouraging exceptional teenaged Fleisher students to further their exploration of the arts. Edwin has made much of his creative work with a cellphone and a Polaroid camera and plans to use the prize money to invest in a digital camera and new editing software.

In the essay accompanying samples of his work, Vasquez wrote, “When I first started to go to Fleisher, I began exploring and finding out what I was good at. Drawing wasn’t my thing, and then I went to sculpture. I found I was fairly good at sculpture and I continued pursuing it over the past couple years. Then I tried photography, which I have always found to be so interesting. Being able to encapsulate a moment in time and being able to hold that on a sheet of paper or a Polaroid or even a digital screen is so incredible. What a simple machine can do to capture light and maintain it is amazing, but at the same time one can manipulate this point in time in the darkroom or computer, which I also find incredible.”

“What lead me to art was just that I was always really creative and found a way to put my ideas on paper,” Vasquez continued. “What compels me to do art is to continue what my father could not achieve. He was always an inspiring artist for me. He taught himself after plenty of years of being in my country and he was aspiring to be an architect. I wish I could take pictures of things he could have made.”

Vasquez was supported for the prize by teaching artist Marie Elcin, who is also been his school art teacher for the past six years. “Throughout the fall, Edwin gave up his recess free time every day to work on his portfolio for high school applications. Several of his pieces were from Fleisher classes, and some he pushed further, transforming his digital photographs into more personal works,” Elcin wrote in a letter supporting Vasquez for the prize. “He has a keen eye for composition, and he likes to blend fantasy and reality in his works. He always surprises me with his unique point of view and approach to projects.”

Pictured, from top:
Edwin Vasquez, Defaced, digital manipulation; Vasquez with his work in Fleisher’s galleries; Edwin Vasquez, The Tree, digital manipulation; Edwin Vasquez, Soon to Be, digital manipulation.

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