The Vera List New School Art Collection Writing Awards are given out annually to New School students who write the best critical and creative essays inspired by works in the university's art collection. The awards were established in 1996 by the late Vera List, a life trustee of The New School and are distributed by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. In 2011-2012, submissions for the writing awards should engage works that relate to "thingness," the current theme the Vera List Center's activities, which is a multi-faceted inquiry into the nature of the material world.

The writing awards celebrate nonfiction and fiction, prose and poetry. All students enrolled in any division of The New School are eligible to submit either a critical or creative text. There is a first-place award of $400 and a second-place award of $200 in each category. Winners are selected by a jury of prominent faculty members and administrators.

The prize-winning pieces are edited by professional art critics in collaboration with their authors and are published in the annual award poster, which is designed in collaboration with illustration faculty of Parsons The New School for Design. This past year, 2000 award posters were printed and distributed throughout the university campus. They are also available at the Vera List Center office, 66 West 12th Street, Room 918.

This year's winning entries will be featured in a celebratory public reading in April 2012.

Works of art related to thingness may or may not be (or depict) objects themselves; they might comment on the material conditions of our lives and environments, or employ methods or media that highlight the depth of our connection to stuff. This year, the call for entries is accompanied by a curator's intervention in the collection, a hunt for thingness in artworks around the university's campus. Download this map as your guide, or you can trust your instincts and go it alone. Thingness can be broadly interpreted.

What is meant by "critical" and "creative" essays?
A critical text on a work in the collection treats the art as a site of knowledge and research (as opposed to inspiring thoughts distinct from the artwork itself). It relies on close examination of the work to articulate an argument, which could elucidate a formal, iconographic, or contextual analysis of the work itself or the position of the work within the context of the artist's oeuvre or the New School collection.

In the creative response category, the judges look for a lively and compelling poem or short story that engages, explicitly or obliquely, a specific work of art in the New School collection. Authors might think of the tradition of New York School poets like Edwin Denby, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara, whose work was inspired by art movements.

Read the 2010-2011 winning entries by award recipients Edwin Rivera, Lenea Grace, and Tikva Hecht, based on the theme noir.


  • Any student currently enrolled in a New School division is eligible.
  • Entries should not exceed 2,500 words and must be submitted as an email attachment to
  • Include a cover page with your name, mailing and email addresses, phone number, university program in which you are enrolled, and your New School Student ID number.
  • The artwork that inspired the text must be clearly identified on the entry's first page by the artist's name, the work's title and date, and its location on campus.
  • Deadline for submisson: entries must be received by Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

View past Art Collection Writing award recipients.

The 2009-2010 Art Collection Writing Award Newspaper and 2010-2011 Call for Submissions

The 2007-2008 Art Collection Writing Award Newspaper (PDF)

The 2006–2007 Art Collection Writing Award Newspaper (PDF)

The 2005–2006 Art Collection Writing Award Newspaper (PDF)