Eyes on the prize: Michelle Obama honors PlatteForum

Ain't it beautiful? That's Judy Anderson and Salvador Flores-Martinez of Denver's PlatteForum accepting the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from Michelle Obama yesterday at the White House. Their voyage to Washington also marked Sal's first-ever jet flight and an ensuing sense of utter awe at being in the nation's capital. That's what spilled over the phone line when we talked to him a couple of days ago, plus a real appreciation for being part of something so big. "I never thought I was creative," he says of his pre-ArtLab days. "I always saw the world as gray, until PlatteForum opened up my vision to the world." At 19, Sal is a veteran of PlatteForum's ArtLab youth program, which was specially earmarked for the $10,000 award. Video from the ceremony follows.

"Sal is one of a kind," notes PlatteForum's education director Meagan Terry. "He is one of those students who burn a light in the room. He's the perfect fit for ArtLab: He's never been afraid to try anything. He'll just dive in and go for it. He's not afraid to challenge himself to do better, yet he's also very honest about his struggles in life." And she adds, high on the moment, "Here we are in D.C. There are only three of us on staff at PlatteForum. But we work with a million artists who are able to reach the kids right where they're at." Amen.

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