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An Artist’s Discovery

Illinois high schooler Hannah Munson shares her Congressional Art Competition experience.

For as long as I can remember, I have doodled and drawn in my notebooks. I enjoyed it but never considered myself an “artist.” That changed a few years ago, thanks to my high school art teacher. She encouraged me to challenge myself artistically and helped me see the potential in my art. Later, she continued to cheer me on and asked me to submit my work for consideration in the Congres-sional Art Competition, a nationwide event sponsored by the Alexandria, Virginia–based Congressional Institute. High school students from participating districts across the country enter for the chance to have their artwork placed within our nation’s Capitol for an entire year. 

I had entered contests before, but winning this one would come with a bonus: two roundtrip tickets to Washington, D.C. (courtesy of Southwest Airlines), to attend the national reception and view the winning artwork on display in the Capitol. In 2013, Southwest supported a record 369 district competitions in this way.

Alongside many other talented artists, I submitted my work. I was elated and proud that my piece titled “A Hero’s Stolen Heart” was selected as my district’s first-place winner and would hang on the walls of our nation’s most treasured building.

Traveling to the national capital to represent the 16th Congressional District of Illinois at the competition was an exciting experience unlike anything I’d ever done. My dad and I attended the reception together and enjoyed all that Washington, D.C., has to offer. The experiences of visiting the city for the first time; meeting my congressman, Rep. Adam Kinzinger; and seeing my work displayed in the Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol, were all amazing.

Winning the Congressional Art Competition was a turning point for me: It solidified my desire and confidence to pursue my passion for the arts. My goal is to use my creative talents to help others through art therapy. 

On behalf of aspiring artists everywhere, thank you to all who support the Congressional Art Competition. Because of you, my future—like my canvas—is open to endless possibilities! 

—Hannah Munson

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