This spring, I had the joy of seeing artworks by young local artists as a judge for the 2017 Congressional Art Competition: 5th District of Colorado. The experience left me deeply impressed with the quality of arts education happening in our local high schools — and the talent of our next generation of local artists!
The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 and still showcases student artwork on exhibition walls around the United States every spring. The competition gives high school artists a chance to exhibit their creations in their local community and compete for a grand prize: two round-trip airfare tickets to attend a reception in Washington, D.C., plus exhibition of the winner’s artwork in the U.S. Capitol for a year.
Locally, our Congressional Art Competition is sponsored by Representative Doug Lamborn and presented at Library 21c, under the thoughtful coordination of Sean Anglum, community engagement and outreach officer for Pikes Peak Library District.
It was a lot to coordinate this year!
Unique artworks were submitted in six categories: painting, drawing, mixed media, printmaking, computer generated art and photography. Artists ages 14-18 represented high schools from across our region, including The Classical Academy, Colorado Springs Christian School, CIVA Charter, Coronado, Fountain-Ft. Carson, Peyton, Pine Creek, St. Mary’s, The Vanguard School, Woodland Park and more.
Each category awarded first-, second- and third-place certificates, plus honorable mentions when we judges wanted to celebrate additional work. In addition, the grand prize was awarded to the overall “Best in Show” and a “People’s Choice” award was tallied during the opening reception.
Judging this competition was a fascinating process. We spent several hours looking closely at the works submitted by the young artists and discussing them together in detail. While we certainly chose to recognize the highest technical quality in different media, our judging panel also recognized several students whose work revealed a distinctive way of seeing the world.
With me on the judging panel were representatives of the Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Imagination Celebration and Manitou Art Center.
In the end, our “Best in Show” winner was Jared Brady, a local home schooler who studies art under the mentorship of Kenneth Shanika. Brady’s exquisite portrait in oils is more than just beautiful — it reveals a sophisticated way of seeing, and rendering light, texture and emotion on canvas. We are proud to send Brady as our district’s representative to Washington, D.C., and to have his painting shown in the U.S. Capitol this coming year as a reflection of our region’s creativity.
Congratulations to Jared, and all of the other award-winners and participants in the 5th Congressional District’s Art Competition. From the perspective of the Cultural Office, I see in all of you our next generation of creators, makers and visionaries, who will play a critical role in our community.
And a very special thanks to the dedicated arts educators across our region, in and out of school, who are cultivating our young artists!
Originally written by Angela Seals of the Cultural Office and published in the Woodmen Edition in May 2017.