Elena Mingorance receives national awards

South Side art student gains recognition for her work


Elena Mingorance, 17, a junior at South Side High School, has been recognized for her artwork by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has had the opportunity to feature her work in several local art exhibitions across Long Island.

Of the more than 300,000 entries submitted by students across the United States, Mingorance was selected among the seven percent of students who were awarded the highest honor of Gold Key recognition on the regional level.

In 2024, Mingorance received two Gold Key awards, one Silver Key Award and three Honorable Mentions for her distinct pieces of artwork. One of the awards presented was for a mixed media art piece, while the others were for her photography.

Elena has bounced between several various art styles and media throughout her high school art career. Her mixed media pieces are perhaps the most unconventional form of art she does, which features big boards and scavenged materials and household items to create the final display. She mentioned how she’s been able to use atypical circumstances as tools and inspiration for some of her artwork.

“My neighbors had a flood, and I just took everything they had from their basement and was like ‘I can use this for art,’” Mingorance said. “And they were happy to give this to ‘crazy person’ who was stalking their driveway for all these crazy wood boards that I used for these pieces.”

She went on to explain that her mixed media work allows her to showcase some deeper and personal connections that she describes as “very free” instead of abstract.

“It’s easy to kind of add these different elements to mixed media pieces with physical tangible objects,” she said.

Mingorance also does sculpting, drawing, prop-making and painting, in addition to the mixed media and photographic work she has received awards for. She has also embraced history in her creations by showcasing and paying homage to African American history, the loss of natural land, the history of Long Island, and connections to her own personal life and those close to her.

In addition to her recognition from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, several Long Island art exhibits, museums and organizations have selected Mingorance art as some of the best among her class of artists. The Heckscher Museum of Art, located in Huntington, selected Mingorance’s mixed media piece entitled “Decline: The Peter Crippen House” to display in the museum. It was recognized as one of the best art pieces done by a high school student on Long Island. Mingorance said her work’s inclusion at the Heckscher Museum of Art as “definitely one of [the] proudest moments” of her young career.

Other distinctions include the Atelier at Flowerfield Exhibit, which chose to display another of Mingorance’s multi media pieces called “Fragility of Memories,” and her piece “Masha Amini,” which was selected for publication in a book. LIU Post also selected Mingorance’s artwork for their Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate art exhibition in their college art gallery.

Mingorance is a young woman with many talents other than just her art. She has developed a deep love for linguistics, through an after-school French program at Hewitt Elementary School.

After graduating from South Side High School next year, she plans to pursue an undergraduate degree on a pre-med track, with plans to continue doing her artwork for a very long time.

“If not more than a hobby, a minor and hopefully throughout life,” she said.

She attributes Keith Gamache, one of her art teachers and the facilitator of the art program at South Side High School as one of her “greatest and most helpful mentors.”

She explained that he has helped facilitate and grow her love for art while creating ample time for her to explore and focus on different areas of study, such as science. Gamache said that he views Elena as a particularly special student, in part, because of her talent despite her busy schedule.

“She hasn’t actually even had an art class since her freshman year, so the fact that she continues to pursue her art at such a serious level … just makes me really want to help support her and help her showcase her art the way it deserves to be seen,” Gamache said.

Mingorance hopes to continue her streak of art recognition with a National Medalist award from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The winner of this even more selective distinction will be announced on June 12, after press time on Tuesday.