All the research Palatine High School senior Alyssa Froehling did before she asked for an expensive Canon digital camera for Christmas -- and her parents' willingness to indulge her -- seems to have paid off.
Froehling was named winner of the 8th District Congressional High School Art Competition in a ceremony hosted by U.S. Rep Tammy Duckworth Saturday in Arlington Heights.
Froehling was among 12 finalists from several high schools within the district, and won for her black-and-white photo composition titled "Symbiosis."
Cheyenne Lam, a sophomore at Addison Trail High School, took second place, while Sean Habel, a senior at Hoffman Estates High School, took third place.
This year's competition theme was "Nature in the Modern World."
"I wanted to express the fact that you can have both nature and progress and development, as long as you do it in a responsible way," Duckworth said.
Froehling's piece consists of black-and-white photographs of two pairs of hands -- one of her mother, and another of a friend -- juxtaposed in Photoshop with images of bare tree branches and wheat in full bloom.
"Most of my pieces are in black-and-white. I'm always trying to make it look like it's film, even though it's digital," said Froehling, who plans to major in creative writing at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.
Her piece will join its winning counterparts from congressional districts across the nation to adorn the hallways of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Among the four competition judges was Gary Drake, a member of the Northwest Cultural Council, which showcases art in several corporate gallery settings, including the Arlington Green Executive Center, where Saturday's ceremony took place.
Good art teachers teach fundamentals like concepts and technique, but also problem solving, said Drake, who taught art for 35 years in Northwest Suburban High School District 214.
"Arts offer an opportunity, to create a great basis for students who go out into the world and become successful art people, or succeed in anything else they want to do," he said.
Glenbard East High School junior Joey Vichio said it was a great honor to be selected as a finalist. "Even if I don't win, I'm just so happy to be here," Vichio said.
Jackie Muff, a senior at Elk Grove High School, agreed. "It's really cool to be here with all of these different people, and it's really cool to be here with Tammy."