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How Do Pictures Tell Us Stories?

May 2, 2020

At its best, art makes people think or react. This is probably why some of the greatest art in history has been analyzed, dissected, and discussed across generations. We like to talk about art here at Xyza too, and today, we’re highlighting awards given to artists in two exciting categories: photography and cartoons.

The 2020 Sony World Photography Awards: Given to artists in a variety of categories, including architecture, culture, motion, and natural world and wildlife, a Sony World Photography Award is a special achievement. The winners in each category go on to compete in the Open Photography Contest. Which of these photos would you choose to be the ultimate winner?

Image: Tai Chi Diagram

Copyright: © Guofei Li, China, Winner, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Photographer Name: Guofei Li
Wildlife Category Winner, 2020
Image Description: These cheetahs had just eaten an antelope, and were licking the bloodstains off each other’s faces. It’s a very rare posture, and one that reminded me of the traditional Chinese
Tai Chi diagram. The picture was taken in Botswana in January 2019.

Image: Going Down!

Copyright: © Alec Connah, United Kingdom, Winner, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Photographer Name: Alec Connah
Motion Category Winner, 2020
Image Description: Despite measuring 125 metres high, it took the four cooling towers of Ironbridge Power Station in Shropshire, England, just 10 seconds to be demolished on 6 December 2019. The towers had been a feature of the landscape for 50 years, but were brought down as part of a new development on the site. The demolition had been a long time coming – the towers were close to a river, railway line and protected woodland, so their destruction had to be precise. This picture was taken from my garden, which is on the hillside opposite the site.

Image: Emotional Geometry

Copyright: © Rosaria Sabrina Pantano, Italy, Winner, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Photographer Name: Rosaria Sabrina Pantano
Architecture Category Winner,2020
Image Description: Having returned to Sicily for the holidays, myself and a group of friends visited Fiumara d’Arte, an open museum showcasing sculptures made by contemporary artists, located along the banks of the Tusa River. Among these works is 38° Parallelo by Mauro Staccioli – a pyramid that stands at the exact point where the geographical coordinates touch the 38th parallel.

Image Name: A Plastic Ocean

Copyright: © Jorge Reynal, Argentina, Winner, Open, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Photographer Name: Jorge Reynal
Still Life Category Winner, 2020
Image Description: Each year, eight million tons of plastic end up in our oceans – equivalent to emptying a garbage truck into the water every minute. This is my protest against pollution. In my language (Spanish), we use the words ‘Naturaleza Muerta’ to refer to still life, which ironically translates as ‘Dead Nature’.

The Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoon: The award for editorial cartoons has a goal, which is “to encourage editorial cartooning as an essential tool for preserving the rights of the American people through freedom of speech and the right of expression.” What does that mean exactly? Well, editorial cartoons are historically a reflection of society, even if drawn with a funny or darkly humorous take. The art form incorporates not only drawing skills but also an ability to tell a story about society using simple pictures. The winner of the 2020 Herblock Award is Michael de Adder, who was awarded the top prize for being able to distill complex ideas into one simple cartoon. The Herblock Award is part of the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing competition, in which young artists in grades 7-12 participate. The top prizes this year went to Gina Bae, a tenth grader from California, Yarlhin Lopez, a twelfth grader from New York, and Steve Dou, an eleventh grader from California.
Take a look below. What do the cartoons tell you about the topic or the artists’ ideas?

Yarlhin Lopez, Another Regular School Day, Editorial Cartoon sponsored by The Herb Block Foundation. Grade 12, High School of Art & Design, New York, NY. Gold Medal, Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoon.


Gina Bae, Hong Kong’s Fight for Free Press, Editorial Cartoon sponsored by The Herb Block Foundation. Grade 10, Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, CA.


Michael de Adder, Greta Thunberg Noah’s Ark, Gold Medal, Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoon.


Michael de Adder, Plastic Bag Fish