One Highland High School student will soon be making her way to Washington D.C. after her artwork won best overall in the recent Congressional Art Competition.
According to Highland High School Art Teacher Anna Claire Barnes, although she requires each of her advanced art students to enter works In the competition, she occasionally selects works from her non-advanced art students.
That selection led to the news that Amara Miles, a 9th grade student at Highland had been selected as the overall winner for the competition in Congressman Rick Crawford’s district.
“The congressional art competition happens in every congressional district across the United States and every congressman puts on an art competition every year. Our congressman Rick Crawford happens to be an artist himself, and really loves the competition so he is the main judge who decides at the end,” Barnes said. “Every year all the local schools in in that congregational district submit art work and it’s either teacher’s choice or they have students turn in art for it.”
Barnes explained young artists will enter pieces in one of six catagories such as painting, drawing, mixed media and so on.
“All of the art in those categories get judged by separate judges and they award first, second and third in those categorizes and I’ve had students win first place a lot, but never first overall… until now. Rick Crawford will got all six first place winners in each category in front of him and then he decided which artwork goes into the congressional building in Washington D.C.,” Barnes said.
Miles explained her recent piece was a new venture and stepping outside of her comfort zone has paid off.
“I mainly got into art during Covid because I felt like we all just needed to get a hobby. I was home schooled, and Covid. I don’t really paint because I don’t like messiness, so I sketch. When I moved to the school Ms. Barnes encouraged me to do stuff out of my expertise,” Miles said. “I did my best. I tried clay, that wasn’t for me. I started seeing things on Pinterest like paper and origami and it really inspired me so I started doing that and this is the first piece I’ve ever done with something like that.”
The piece, titled Flowers For You, took on many transitions during its creation, “It was a long process and definitely strayed from what I had originally decided for it to be. I had many ideas for it and so It slowly started adapting into something when I started feeling inspired by it,” Miles said.
When asked about the unique piece, Miles shared a message that resonates around the globe.
“The hedge represents a wall. Like the wall between people and how when you offer something to someone the beauty of that truce, the beauty of just reaching out can mean so much to someone.” Miles said.
When asked how she felt receiving the news she had not only placed, but won overall in the competion, Miles said she was surprised. Her suprise may be attributed to many things, but one reason was Barnes had forgotten to mention the work of art had beeen entered in the competition to begin with.
“I forgot to tell her,” Barnes said. “I told all of the other students and didn’t tell her.”
“I wasn’t expecting it at all, I was very surprised. She’d submitted it for me and I just wasn’t expecting it,” Miles said.
Miles will fly to Washington D.C. in late June to attend the Congressional Banquet, where she will meet other congressional district winners and receive further recognition. Her art will be on display in D.C. for one year.
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Lauren is a an award-winning journalist who decided after 10 years of newspaper experience to venture out. Hallmark Times was born.