Harlem 4th Grader’s Artwork Shines At MoMA’s Manhattan Arts Festival

May 28, 2024

By HWM

Taiwo Adenusi, a talented fourth-grader from Success Academy Harlem 1, has achieved an incredible feat – her artwork, “The Human Waterfall,” has been selected for the prestigious 10th Annual Manhattan Borough Arts Festival.

This remarkable exhibition showcases the best student artwork from across Manhattan, with the winners’ pieces gracing the hallowed walls of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

At Success Academy, nurturing artistic expression is a core value, and the Visual Arts program plays a pivotal role in expanding scholars’ horizons and exposing them to the competitive art world. From kindergarten, teachers meticulously curate and submit their students’ highest-quality work to external competitions, fostering a culture of excellence.


A Masterpiece Inspired by Calmness

Adenusi’s art teacher, Mauren Antkowski, recognized the exceptional talent in “The Human Waterfall” and submitted it for the competition. Inspired by a YouTube video, Adenusi sought to capture a sense of tranquility through her painting. “My piece is about calmness,” explained Taiwo Adenusi. “It’s a waterfall to represent calmness, and when you hold it upside down, it looks like a human holding a waterfall. It feels really good to be selected for the festival, and I’m really proud of myself. I wanted my artwork to be in a place where lots of people would see it.”

A Celebration of Talent and Dedication

Antkowski, the Lead Art Teacher at Success Academy Harlem 1 Elementary School, beamed with pride at Adenusi’s achievement. “I’ve known Taiwo as an exceptional scholar artist since kindergarten. Not only does she have artistic talent, but also grit and a growth mindset,” she said. “I entered her painting into the Manhattan Borough Arts Festival competition because the quality of her work and her dedication to the practice of artmaking exemplify whole child education; she is a talented artist, a committed student, and a kind and caring person. I was delighted when I learned her work was selected to be displayed at the MoMA.”

Adenusi’s success is a testament to Success Academy’s commitment to providing robust opportunities for artistic expression. Marissa Mule, Visual Arts Program Manager at Success Academy, emphasized, “At Success Academy, we believe that every child deserves access to a high-quality education that includes robust opportunities for artistic expression. Our visual arts program offers scholars the opportunity to explore their creativity and talents outside of the classroom.”


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A Celebration of Diversity and Inclusion

Success Academy, the largest public charter school network in NYC, serves over 20,000 students across 57 schools in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. A majority of these students are children of color from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods, making Adenusi’s achievement even more remarkable.

Adenusi’s masterpiece, “The Human Waterfall,” will be displayed at The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building at the MoMA for The Manhattan Borough Arts Festival exhibition until June 2, 2024. This is a proud moment not only for Adenusi and Success Academy, but also for the entire community, celebrating the power of art to transcend boundaries and inspire generations.

Photo credit: Success Academy.


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