Student artists honored at Congressional Art Competition

Saturday, May 5, 2018
Rancho Mirage

They came with brothers and sisters, their moms and dads, and the teachers who inspired them to create works of art.

In all, more than 100 people gathered at Sunnylands Center & Gardens on May 1 to celebrate the participants and winners of the 2018 Congressional Art Competition in Rep. Raul Ruiz’s 36th Congressional District.

Since 1982, the Congressional Institute has sponsored an art competition in every congressional district in the nation to recognize high school students with artistic talent. Since then, more than 650,000 high school students have participated in the event. The competition for the 36th Congressional District was open to high school students in the Coachella Valley and eastern Inland Empire.

Before Ruiz announced the winners, the student artists and their parents, siblings, and friends enjoyed refreshments while viewing the 44 pieces of art entered into this year’s competition that had been put on display in the Center.

Sunnylands and art have a long history, starting with the extraordinary collection of paintings, sculptures, sketches and kinetic art amassed by Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

“The Annenbergs felt that bringing people together in a space and surrounding them with art was a wonderful catalyst for conversation, for dialogue, for getting through ideas and discussions and solving problems and world issues,” Michaeleen Gallagher, director of education and environmental programs, said in her welcoming remarks. “So, having the art in this space really comes full circle for Sunnylands.”

For his part, Ruiz thanked area community leaders who served as judges; the friends and family of the students for their encouragement and support; and the artists themselves, students who were brave enough to tell their stories – either their personal experiences or what they see around their community – through their art.

“It really takes a lot of courage for people to put that story, to put that heart and soul, into this artwork; and then to be judged. I want to let you all know that all of you are winners in my book,” he said.

The winners of the 2018 Congressional Art Competition are:

Nadia will have her artwork on display at the U.S. Capitol and receive, with a parent, a trip to Washington, D.C. for a ceremony in honor of the all the national first place winners. Darius will have his art work hung in Ruiz’s office in Washington, D.C. Kayla’s artwork will be on display in Ruiz’s Palm Desert office, and Khoa’s art will be hung in the Hemet office.

After the winners were announced, guests continued to enjoy the reception as students discussed their art.

Jennifer Avila, a senior from Indio High School, commented on her photograph. “I first entered Tubes at the Riverside County Fair. I got best of class and first place,” she said. “My art teacher encouraged me to enter Tubes here.” Irie Gonzalez, a junior at Indio High School, described the process of her piece, Portrait on Collage. “It was my first time using oil pastels on non-traditional canvas. I had a hard time getting the skin tone right, but I’m happy with it,” she said.