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Congressional Art Awards

June 13, 2021

Congratulations go to Lewiston and Portland students

In an academic year that was largely defined by remote learning and minimal social gatherings, twelve high school art students welcomed some exciting news from Maine’s Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman Jared Golden. 

Representatives Pingree and Golden announced the winners of this year’s Congressional Art Competition: Baxter Academy senior Elwen Bernard of Maine’s First District, and Lewiston High School sophomore Whitney Perkins of Maine’s Second District.

Benard’s illustration Passport Photo, and Perkins’ photograph Curious, will be displayed in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for the entire year, alongside winning artists from districts across the country. The winners are flown to Washington, D.C. in June for the official opening of the show.

“Every year, the sheer talent of Maine student artists blows me away, and this year’s Congressional Art Competition was no exception. Art offers a great outlet through tough times. I’m thrilled to see that students are still connected with their artistic processes after a year of unknowns and immense change,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “Elwen’s piece is poignant and stunning, and I’m sure that it will stand out when it’s on display at the Capitol. My thanks to all the students who participated this year—It is an honor to view your work.”

“I had high hopes for the submissions we’d receive for this year’s Congressional Art Competition, but the students really went above and beyond,” said Congressman Golden. “This contest is a great showcase of the insight and skill of Maine students, and it’s an annual reminder of how fortunate we are to have so many talented young artists in our state. Congratulations to all of our winners and thank you for making our district proud.”

The submitted artwork was judged by a panel of jurors selected by the Maine Arts Commission.  Jurors Juliet Karelsen and Breehan James judged the First District competition.

 The jurors noted in Benard’s Passport Photo, “we encounter a real person whose strength, warmth, honesty, vulnerability and soul come through the finely layered and textured colored pencil markings….It exudes an inner life and an unassuming presence. It speaks loudly in its quiet expressiveness and subtly.”

Jurors Carolyn Wallace-Zani and Teddi-Jann Covell judged the Second District competition.

In Perkins’ Curiosity, the jurors noted the variety and repetition of lines, shapes, tones, and values repeatedly directing the viewer through the nearly empty bus and back again to the young child while confirming her feelings of isolation, uncertainty, and curiosity. “This piece has a strong composition, is well presented and timely. Her backwards glance caught us looking into the now common life of all students around the world during this pandemic. Even though the mask hides a smile, it cannot mask the inquisitiveness of youngsters.”

The judges honored the works of twelve Maine students in total.

First District:  Winner: Elwen Benard of Baxter Academy. First Runner Up: Fiona Jason of Baxter Academy, Second Runner Up: Kaitlyn Sawicki of Freeport High School. Honorable Mention: Della Huntley of Baxter Academy. Honorable Mention: Alexis Milem of Thornton Academy. Honorable Mention: Kaylee Demers of Falmouth High School.

Second District: Winner: Whitney Perkins. First Runner Up: Sophia Carson of Edward Little High School, Second Runner Up: Ella Shaffer of Rangeley Lakes Regional School. Honorable Mention: Lexi Bachelder. Rangeley Lakes Regional School. Honorable Mention: Ruoxuan Zhang of Lee Academy, Honorable Mention: Addaline Hemmingway of Rangeley Lakes Regional School.

Click here to view student’s artwork in a virtual gallery

The Congressional Arts Competition was started in 1982 to honor the arts and talents of students nationwide. The Maine Arts Commission works closely with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s and Congressman Jared Golden’s offices to administer the program. The Arts Commission also partners with the Maine College of Art (MECA) and the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards to help with the process of selecting the artwork. Two art professionals from each district are chosen to jury artwork from that district. It is “blind” jurying in which the judges only see the title, size and medium of each piece. This year they convened online to review and discuss digital images to decide. Placements are first, second, third and then three honorable mentions.

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