Andy Warhol won it. So did Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates and acclaimed portrait photographer Richard Avedon.
Now three Baltimore County high school seniors have also been honored in the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program, which has recognized young talent since 1923.
Benjamin Guthorn of the Carver Center for Arts and Technology, Allison Hertz of Franklin High School and Towson High School's Sarah "Sam" Matsumoto will receive $10,000 as Gold Award recipients.
Hertz was one of five students whose art was recognized at this level. Guthorn and Matsumoto took home photography awards.
The young artists' work will be on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington from July 1 to Aug. 6, according to the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit organization that coordinates the national event.
Its goal is to guide and support "kids for whom creativity is a life path," said executive director B.J. Adler. She said many recipients pursue careers in the fine arts. Others seek commercial art careers.
Including all categories, the awards program recognized 44 Maryland students among the 1,000 who will be honored nationally. The majority of the Maryland students attend Baltimore County schools - 15 from Carver and 12 from Towson High.
Last year, three Carver students were named Gold Award winners. The county had five finalists in the national Arts Recognition and Talent Search, and 17 of the 25 students recognized with scholarships by the Maryland Artists Equity Foundation.
Adler said the Baltimore County school system deserves accolades. The students' work was chosen from nearly 200,000 portfolios.
The awards show others that they too can achieve, said Linda G. Popp, the school system's coordinator of art. "As soon as you have one successful student, it snowballs," she said.
Hertz, 17, of Reisterstown said she has been drawing since she "could hold a crayon." She studied at an arts organization while in middle school. At Franklin High, she "took all the classes I could in fine arts," she said.
The student wants to write and illustrate children's books and has finished Attack of the Vegtuhblads, a self-published book about good nutrition. She will study illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art.
Hertz said she layered pastel crosshatching on acrylic paint in her award-winning work, creating "intricate, different nuances of color" to depict relationships with herself or others.
"I do the work for myself, but I also do it so other people can see a little piece of me on canvas," she said.
Guthorn began taking black-and-white pictures of Baltimore residents last summer at Hampden's HonFest and then explored other Baltimore fairs. The images "kind of dissected" his subjects, he said.
He plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis next year to study photography, political science or history.
Guthorn said he is "flabbergasted" by the idea of showing his work at the Corcoran. "Most artists don't get to do that until they're much more advanced and usually dead," he said.
Matsumoto started taking photography as a sophomore at Towson High School. She plans to attend the Art Institute of Boston next year.
Her poster-size self-portraits address Asian stereotypes, said Matsumoto, who is half Japanese. In one, she wears an oversized white shirt, giant glasses and an overflowing pocket protector to show how the "model minority" image doesn't fit her.
"I'm not really into math, but often people expect me to be," Matsumoto said.
She said she was honored to be recognized. She drew inspiration for some of her portraits from Avedon. "It's just such an honor to be spoken of in the same sentence," she said.