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Local students earn top honors in Congressional Art Competition

CONCORD, N.C. – Artwork by Cabarrus County students will be brightening up buildings in Washington, D.C. soon.

Mount Pleasant High School junior Jazmin Williams won first place in the 2014 Congressional Art Competition and was recognized along with other winners at a reception hosted by U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson at the Sam Bass Gallery in Concord on Tuesday.

Concord High School senior Shelby Stocton’s piece came in second place. In third place was Destiny Jacobs from Fairmont High School.

For earning first place, Williams’ self portrait, a charcoal drawing, will hang in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. for one year. Hudson said it will be in a tunnel he walks through about five or six times a day.

“Your art will be seen by every member of Congress several times a day,” Hudson said.

Williams will also be invited to a reception in D.C.

She said it was “overwhelming” to receive this honor.

“Just being able to show people my work and doing it, I really enjoy it,” Williams said.

Stocton’s piece, “Skewed Self-Portrait,” will hang in Hudson’s D.C. office, and Jacobs’ piece will hang in his Concord office.

Williams is currently enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) Art. She was honored at the school board’s business meeting on Monday as a winner of Youth Art Month Superintendent's Choice Awards for her piece, “Daffodil.”

Williams and Stocton were also recognized at the meeting as Scholastic Art Award recipients. Williams said she plans to pursue art, specifically graphic design, in the future, and Stocton will attend Appalachian State University in the fall and enroll in the art program.

“I love to challenge myself,” Stocton said. “The payoff is really nice. It’s nice to get your work out there.”

There were 60 submissions, and 13 high schools in the Eighth District participated in the art competition, said Elizabeth Edwards, constitutional relations manager for Hudson’s office.

Professional artist Lin Barnhardt and Rachel Wilkes, executive director of the Cabarrus County Education Foundation, were the judges.

This year, there was also a fan favorite winner, which was Fairmont High School’s Courtney McCormick for her work, “Lumber River.” The submissions were posted on Facebook, and the one with the most likes was named the fan favorite.

About 50 people, including students, parents and school board members, attended the reception Tuesday.

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett welcomed those who attended. He said the reception had been held at another location for several years.

“It’s so appropriate (to have it here) because I know you young people that are talented are excited to be in the midst of Sam Bass, who has boatloads of talent,” Padgett said.

Bass told the students it was an honor to have their artwork in his gallery.

“The best piece of advice I can give you is never give up,” Bass said. “It’s really how bad do you want it, and the thing that always worked for me is, when people discouraged me, turning all of that discouragement into positive energy. … You’ve all got a lot of talent, and you ought to be proud of what you’ve produced.”

Hudson agreed.

“What an incredible body of work we have here. … I’ve always had a love for art and had an appreciation for art. … Art education, I think, is critical to our schools. … Art just adds so much to your education and expands your horizons. It helps you expand your view of the world,” Hudson said.

He then announced the winners and honorable mentions, which included Matthew Alicea and Gabrielle Hudson from Concord High. All of the students received certificates and were recognized for participating.

Concord Independent Tribune, by: Jessica Groover Pacek

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