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Award-winning teen artist admits copying painting

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Art controversy
“Selfish,” left, a 2006 painting by artist Wenqing Yan, 20, of Monrovia, Calif., (; and 'Stolen Wings," Kasey Bowman’s submission.

A South Albany High School senior whose painting, “Stolen Wings,” received a gold medal in the 2010 National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition has admitted she copied the painting.

Kasey Bowman, 18, had been invited last month to attend a June 8 awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York and the opening reception of the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Exhibition at the World Financial Center’s Courtyard Gallery, where her painting was to have been on display through June 25.

Scholastic revoked the award and removed the painting from its online gallery after investigating complaints from artist Wenqing Yan, 19, of Monrovia, Calif., whose original painting “Selfish,” created in 2006, is nearly identical to Bowman’s submission.

Both paintings depict a nude young woman from the back, standing with a dead swan dangling from her left hand, its wings severed. The wings have been affixed to the girl’s back.

In “Selfish,” the model has short, blond hair and is holding a bloody knife in her right hand. In “Stolen Wings,” her hair is longer and dark. Its style is darker in tone, and the knife is not distinct.

Bowman said Monday that she had seen painting and its accompanying poem online several years ago and was so moved by it that she sketched the image and copied the poem.

Several years later, she said a friend saw her sketch, remarked howmuch she liked it, and asked for a painting of the work. Bowman said she painted a copy from her sketch, changing a few details in the process. She also included the copied poem.

Bowman said that both her art teacher and her family really liked the results, and when the opportunity came to enter something in the Scholastic contest, they suggested the painting. She said she knew the idea for the painting was not her own but did not know how to give the artist credit.

“I feel so bad; I would never have done it. I am completely remorseful,” Bowman said Monday. “I would never intentionally hurt another artist."

Maria Delapoer, superintendent of Greater Albany Public Schools, said news about the painting reached her over the weekend. If “Stolen Wings” received class credit, she said, school consequences could be forthcoming, but that is still under investigation.

"The district does not condone plagiarism and expects students to submit original work, whether it's artistic or academic," Delapoer said.

“I think she’s learned, and won’t go down that path again,” the superintendent said of Bowman.

According to Yan’s blog, she started complaining to competition officials on April 6 that the gold medal entry depicted her original work.

Scholastic posted a statement Monday on its Facebook page that the National Gold Medal and American Visions Award have been revoked. “Contrary to information posted online by commenters on various sites, this student received no monetary prize from our program,” the statement reads.

Scholastic said the number of entries it receives makes it impossible to verify the originality of every one. Artists are asked to sign a consent form stating the work is their own.

“We encourage concerned observers to remember that the student involved has acknowledged that she has made a mistake, and to think about the effects that statements posted online may have,” the organization said.


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