The creations of 93 teenagers — finalists of “Twist Fate,” an international art and writing challenge for 13 to 17 year olds — are being showcased in a book that is available online at clalliance.org/twist-fate and at select libraries nationwide.
The contest, run by the Connected Learning Alliance (CLA) and hosted by the popular apps DeviantArt and Wattpad, called on teens all over the world to submit works, twisting the fate of storybook heroes and villains.
“We challenged teens aged 13-17 to ‘pick a story and character, and create an alternative scenario where a famous hero is the villain, or an infamous villain, the hero.’ And, we invited them to submit their entries to DeviantArt and Wattpad, homes to some of the most vibrant youth creative communities on the net,” said Mimi Ito, director the Connected Learning Lab, which coordinates the CLA, at the University of California, Irvine. “As a result, you’ll find a phantasmagoric teen neverland, often delightful, sometimes dark, and always surprising creations were produced. You’ll see characters varying from Snow White, to Harry Potter, to Jarvis (the A.I. in Ironman), all transformed in ways both familiar and unexpectedly strange. The Twist Fate challenge is an effort to connect and recognize the abundant creativity and learning that teens are engaged in through Wattpad and DeviantArt, showcasing how these sites are platforms for powerful new forms of learning to educators, parents, and others who might not already be tapped into this neverland.”
Thousands submitted entries and the best were chosen for publication online and in the “Twist Fate” book by its editors — writers Sara Ryan (author of “Bad Houses,” “The Rules for Hearts” and “Empress of the World”) and Lauren Kate (author of “Fallen,” Torment,” “Passion,” “Rapture,” “Fallen in Love” and “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”), Walt Disney Animation Studios story artist Brian Kesinger and Antero Garcia, Stanford University assistant professor of education.
“From the Dark Knight to the Emerald Empire, the worlds that ‘Twist Fate’ spans are impressive and — as a reader — initially overwhelming. There are a lot of interests captured in a collection that comes from just two popular online communities,” Garcia said. “The images, stories, comics and poems included in the ‘Twist Fate’ published collection illustrate the possibilities of youth production and online communication.”
“With the Twist Fate challenge, teens had an incredible opportunity to use text and multimedia to create a work of fiction on Wattpad and DeviantArt that now appears on library shelves across North America,” said Wattpad’s co-founder and CEO Allen Lau.
Added Christina Cantrill, of the National Writing Project (NWP): “Since we know that writing happens in many ways with words and images across mediums and communities, this project allowed youth to channel their interests and understanding into new skills which, in turn, will support them navigating a rapidly changing world of participatory engagement and communications.”
The mission is to nurture the artist in everyone, said Angelo Sotira, DeviantArt’s co-founder and CEO. “Young people experiment with all kinds of expression. The Twist Fate project, linked with serious educators, was an opportunity for our community to teach and give voice to teens in a peer setting. We have always done this organically and on a huge scale but this is the first time we have partnered directly with library and school programs.”
The challenge also was part of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week campaign, in which libraries nationwide showcase their digital resources and services that are available to help teens succeed in school and prepare for college and 21st century careers.
“Twist Fate provided libraries and classrooms across the globe an opportunity to link connected learning, creativity and technology and gave students a chance to improve their skills and get to know supportive, social communities that can help connect them as mentors, fellow artists, and friends,” YALSA President Candice Mack said.
To read all the stories and see the artworks, go to clalliance.org/twist-fate.
Mimi Ko Cruz
Founded in 2000, DeviantArt is an online social network for artists and art enthusiasts, and a platform for emerging and established artists to exhibit, promote, and share their works with an enthusiastic, art-centric community. It has more than 38 million registered members and attracts more than 65 million unique visitors per month. Members — knowns as deviants — daily upload more than 160,000 original artworks, everything from painting and sculpture to digital art, pixel art, films, and anime. Learn more at deviantart.com.
Founded in 2006, Wattpad is a free app that lets people discover and share stories about the things they love. More than 40 million people around the world turn to Wattpad to find entertainment that matches their interests and fits their schedules. Wattpad stories are serialized and the entire community participates in the storytelling process through comments, messages, and multimedia. The app offers stories in over 50 languages and works on mobile and web. The company is based in Toronto, Canada. Learn more at wattpad.com.
About Connected Learning Alliance
The CLA supports the expansion and influence of a network of educators, experts and youth-serving organizations, mobilizing new technology in the service of equity, access and opportunity for all young people. The Alliance is coordinated at the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at UC Irvine. Learn more at clalliance.org.
About National Writing Project
NWP is a network of sites anchored at colleges and universities and serving teachers across disciplines and at all levels, early childhood through university. NWP provides professional development, develops resources, generates research, and acts on knowledge to improve the teaching of writing and learning in schools and communities. Learn more at nwp.org.
About Young Adult Library Services Association
YALSA is a national association of librarians, library workers and advocates with a mission is to expand and strengthen library services for teens. YALSA brings together key stakeholders from the areas of libraries, education, research, out of school time, youth development and more to develop and deliver resources to libraries that expand their capacity to support teen learning and enrichment and to foster healthy communities. Learn more at ala.org/yalsa.