Young local artists from high schools in Lake, Porter, and La Porte counties displayed their work for the Congressional Art Show on Monday at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Park located along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The United States Congress hosts the national project annually to highlight and promote the artistic and creative abilities of high school students in districts throughout the country. This year the Art Show received 59 pieces of art from nineteen high schools in the region.
“Every painting or work of art has its own story,” said Celina Weatherwax, Director of Communication for Rep. Pete Visclosky, whose office coordinated the event in the 1st District of Indiana. “This is the first year in quite a few that we’ve held an exhibition to show off what these young artists are capable of. Some pieces are so well done that we wanted to let the community see what kind of talent we have around here. There’s such a wide, diverse variety here. It’s taken a lot of engagement from the community to make this happen and without the active participation of the teachers leading these students it wouldn’t be what it is today.
Ashley Rumford, a senior at Hebron High School, was there showing off her artwork. “I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil,” Rumford said. “Over the last couple years I’ve worked more with computers doing graphic design and that’s what I’m going to study at Ball State next year.”
Rumford took advantage of the Visual Communications course Hebron started offering recently and that has translated into the work she displayed at the Art Show. Her piece, “School Time” was created by bringing together her early drawing talents with modern graphic design tools.
Representative Pete Visclosky was there viewing the art and speaking with the artists. “The innovative spirit and creative ability in these students is special,” Rep. Visclosky said. “We need to really encourage the arts in our community. It’s a distinct part of a well-rounded education and we know that students who are involved in the arts perform better in other areas in school. Looking at these young people and what they can create and knowing the opportunities and challenges they will face is really encouraging.”
Taking first place in this year’s Congressional Art Show was Allison Goetz, a senior at Morgan Township High School. Her work of art, “Captain America”, is a side portrait of Abraham Lincoln done over top of a collage of red, white and blue pieces of torn paper put together to form the American flag. “We have a bunch of magazines in our art class so I used those to cut out the background pieces and I used paint brushes, sponges and acrylic to paint Lincoln,” Goetz said.
Goetz’s use of magazines like Newsweek and subject matter like Abraham Lincoln fit well with methodology that Art Show judge John Cain, from South Shore Art, used when judging the pieces. “It was very subjective but I was influenced by the ‘Congressional’ in Congressional Art Show,” Cain said. “I took that into account when choosing the winner. In the end though it’s about encouraging the arts and getting students to be creative, and I think we succeeded at that.”
The winning artwork will be displayed at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. for one year.