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updated: 5/12/2011 3:10 PM

From Kane County to the Capitol: winning artwork

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  • Lucy Miller of Larkin High School in Elgin won the 14th Congressional District art competition with her oil painting titled "Self Portrait."

    Lucy Miller of Larkin High School in Elgin won the 14th Congressional District art competition with her oil painting titled "Self Portrait."
    Courtesy Sammi King


It's one of the only national art exhibits for high school students in the country. Sadly, very few people ever get to see it.

It's the Congressional Art Competition -- "An Artistic Discovery" -- sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives and displayed in the passageway from the Dirksen Senate Office Building to the United States Capitol.

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of the 14th District said families who make a trip to Washington and schedule a meeting with their congressman before heading to Congress do have the opportunity to see the exhibit when they take the shuttle over to the Capitol.

"I make the trip over to Congress at least six times a day," Hultgren said. "I really enjoy seeing the art from across the country."

The shuttle moves so quickly, it's hard to take the whole exhibit in. Too bad the exhibit can't be shown in a location where everyone can view it.

Hultgren was in Batavia last Friday for the announcement of the winner of the 14th district's competition. The winning entry, selected by a panel of jurors from Water Street Studios in Batavia, will hang in the nation's Capitol for one year.

"I have an appreciation for art but I don't really feel capable of judging an art competition," said Hultgren. "I feel fortunate to have the assistance of the jury of dedicated artists and teachers who make the selection."

Winning this year's competition for her oil painting, titled, "Self Portrait," was Lucy Miller, a senior at Larkin High School in Elgin. She plans to further her study in art when she enrolls at Carleton College next fall.

"I am thrilled to win this," said Miller. "And I am so excited to win a trip to Washington, D.C. to see it displayed in the Capitol."

Second place was awarded to Kaneland High School sophomore Nicole Grossman, who did an intricate drawing composed of dots, titled "Leaf."

"In my opinion, she would have won if only she had added about 20 more dots," joked her father, Allan Grossman.

Nicole, who plans to become an art teacher, was thrilled to win the second place award.

The artwork of the finalists has been on display in the second floor gallery at Water Street Studios since April 29. At the closing reception for the finalists last Friday, the students had the opportunity to meet Hultgren and to view the studio.

"I wasn't really aware of Water Street Studios," said Vaughn Williams, a junior at St. Francis High School in Wheaton. "I'm really impressed with what they have to offer."

The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, more than 650,000 high school students have been involved with the nationwide competition. This is the second year that Water Street Studios has been involved in the competition.

"This is always an exciting event for us." said Jim Kirkhoff, director of development for Water Street Studios. "A main element of our mission is to develop the talent of students."

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