AMA’s annual student essay contest revealed

"A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words" will open to students later this month
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

ALBANY, GA – Touring the Albany Museum of Art and writing about an art object will be especially profitable for three high school students and three college students.

The AMA’s annual A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words essay contest launches Aug 31 and continues through Oct 1. The top three essayists in each of the two categories—high school and college—will receive cash prizes at an awards ceremony scheduled for Thursday, Oct 14 at the museum.

“We are thrilled to continue this wonderful contest this school year,” AMA Director of Education & Public Programming Annie Vanoteghem said. “The most creative and inspirational minds always emerge through this exercise. It is a wonderful opportunity to spend some time of self-exploration with a work of art in our galleries. There is no right or wrong, only beautiful writing!”

To participate, a student must visit the AMA and select one of seven designated art objects from current AMA exhibitions as inspiration for an essay of 1,000 or fewer words. While the essay must relate to the selected art object, it may be written as prose or poetry. It may be factual or fictional. There is no cost to enter, and only one essay may be submitted per student.

In each division, the awards are $250 for first place, $150 for second place, and $100 for third place. Up to two honorable mentions in each division also will be named. Each of the 10 essayists will be invited to the Oct 14 awards ceremony, where winners will be announced. “The top 10 writers, five from each division, will have the opportunity to read their work aloud in the gallery,” Vanoteghem said.

A list of the designated art objects is available at the front desk at the AMA. The art objects are from three current exhibitions—European Splendors: Old Master Paintings from the Kress Collection; Horse Power, Works by Cedric Smith, and Essay Topic: Write Down the Word WOMAN One Hundred Times!, New Works by Sanaz Haghani. The three exhibitions are on view through Dec 23. The AMA, located at 311 Meadowlark Drive adjacent to Albany State University West Campus, is open 10 am-5 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

“This year’s exhibitions offer three vastly different opportunities for writing,” Vanoteghem said. “There is something for everyone, and countless interpretations to discover. Students may be drawn instantly to one work, or they may choose to challenge themselves with a work outside of their comfort zone.”

European Splendors: Old Master Paintings from the Kress Collection includes Renaissance and Baroque period paintings from the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, with support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. The AMA exhibition was made possible by the Walter & Frances Bunzl Family Foundation.

Horse Power features paintings by Macon, Ga., artist Cedric Smith. In the exhibition, Smith explores the largely forgotten role that Black men have played in the equestrian industry, and imagines how Black men might have been portrayed in advertising.

In Essay Topic: Write Down the Word WOMAN One Hundred Times!, Athens, Ga., artist Sanaz Haghani investigates the suppressed roles of women in theocratic societies, including her native Iran. Her work is screen print on paper, including one artwork that is 100 feet long.

The competition is open to any college student who lives in Southwest Georgia, and to any student, regardless of hometown, who is currently enrolled at Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Georgia Southwestern State University, Valdosta State University, Thomas University, or Andrew College.

The high school division is open to public and private high school students in Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Sumter, Terrell, Thomas and Worth counties.

Dually enrolled students, who take both high school and college-credit classes, compete in the college division.

Entries must be emailed to by midnight on Oct 1. Guidelines, frequently asked questions, and a list of winners from previous essay contests may be found at

“Individual students or whole classes can come to the museum and spend time with one of the selected works,” Vanoteghem said. “Everyone who enters this contest will be able to expand their visual thinking skills, develop their writing skills, and grow their appreciation for art. It is always a rewarding experience for students.”

Questions about the contest may be emailed to Vanoteghem at



European Splendors: Old Master Paintings from the Kress Collection is in the Haley Gallery Aug 26-Dec 23, 2021.

Horse Power: Works by Cedric Smith is in the East Gallery July 10-Dec 23, 2021.

Essay Topic: Write Down the Word WOMAN One Hundred Times, New works by Sanaz Haghani is in the McCormack Gallery July 10-Dec 23, 2021

Escape Plan, installation by Elinor Saragoussi, is in the West Gallery.


The Albany Museum of Art is located at 311 Meadowlark Drive in Albany, Ga., adjacent to Albany State University West Campus just off Gillionville Road. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.  The Albany Museum of Art is open to the public 10 am-5 pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 am-7 pm Thursdays.  Admission is free.

For more information about the AMA please visit our website, or call 229.439.8400. Be sure to follow the @AlbanyArtMuseum on Twitter, AlbanyMuseum on Instagram and AlbanyMuseumOfArt on Facebook.