Earlier this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from our US Representative Anna Eshoo’s office. They asked me, as a long-standing professional artist, to act as a juror for the Congressional Art Competition, an annual art competition for young persons in the 7th through 12th grades. The art competition is held annually in all 435 US districts. The winner from each district will have their art exhibited in Washington, D.C in the Capital Building for an entire year.
I quickly accepted my responsibility to evaluate art from so many young California artists.
I, along with several other jurors, received online access to view and evaluate the work of several dozens of artists. We were asked to identify, rank and report our top 3 choices, with a few words about each selection. We each made judgements based on our own artistic sense. I organized what I felt were appropriate criteria, and then made notes as I examined each and every entry carefully. I gradually reduced the number of possibilities, and eventually winnowed it down to what I felt were the 3 strongest pieces of art. The whole process was fun, and also very stimulating, in that so many truly excellent works were coming from such young artists. The variety of theme, style and media was inspirational.
The first place winner will not only have their work displayed in our nation’s capital, but will also be given plane tickets to attend a reception ceremony in Washington. Anna Eshoo’s staff also arranged a virtual reception for all the local applicants in her district. I was pleased that one of my selections was indeed selected the winner from our district.
Here is the statement I made recently at the virtual reception.
“Thank you for inviting me to nominate awards for the Anna Eshoo 2021 High School Art Competition. I appreciate the opportunity to view the art made by the young people in our community. It takes courage and commitment to enter any art competition, so congratulations to all the entrants for persevering during this difficult time.
“Making art can both comfort us and sustain us as artists. Art is the expression of what is in our hearts and minds. This collection of work includes fine examples of the concerns of young people for the main issues of our day: climate change and sustainability, racial inequality, and surviving the pandemic. These students express the challenges they face. These art works also include reflections of the beauty in our world: the crashing wave, the shiny red car, the raindrops on the windshield. Seeing beauty is also the purview of an artist.
“As an oil painter, I find that figurative work is the most difficult to execute well. This perspective had an influence on my choice of nominees. I responded strongly to the painting “Quarantine Dreams”, a painting of a young woman holding a pillow to her chest. We all need to find ways to self-comfort during this COVID era.
“Throughout my many years as an artist, creating art has given me much joy: in the art making process and for the many fine people I have met along the way. I hope that in your lives, young people, art will offer you such fulfillment.
Information about the competition In Congresswoman Eshoo’s district is available here.