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Congressional Art Show honoree Morgan Bakaletz of Anderson County High School, second from right, is congratulated by, from left, State Rep. John Ragan, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and Oak Ridge City Council Member Jim Dodson.
May 4, 2018
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
The annual Congressional Art Competition is a “catalyst to spark creativity,” U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said as he praised the artwork of high school students in his 11-county district.
Fleischmann was again the honorary chair of the art awards event, held in April on the Oak Ridge Campus of Roane State Community College.
The 92 entries from students in 11 high schools lined hallways in the college’s Coffey-McNally Building. “I don’t do the judging,” Fleischmann said of the entries, “but they’re all winners.”
Roane State has hosted the celebration for two years.
The nationwide Congressional Art Competition was launched in 1982 to give the 435 members of the House of Representatives the chance to display the artistic talents of students in their districts.
The artwork of first-place finishers are exhibited in the Cannon Tunnel, which links the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Members of Congress and the public regularly walk through the tunnel.
Fleischmann said he noticed Tennessee’s 3rd District had previously not been represented in the competition, and the space set aside for artwork by a student from his district was empty.
“Ours was just a blank, open wall,” said Fleischmann, first elected in 2010 and now running for his fifth consecutive two-year term. The competition in his district has now become a tradition, “and it’s gotten better and better each year,” he said.
“It would be a dull world without art,” said Fleischmann’s wife, Brenda, as she admired the students’ entries.
Creating art is no easy task and is “both a physical and emotional commitment,” Roane State Art Professor Bryan Wilkerson said. He judged this year’s entries and encouraged the young artists to continue developing their skills.
Phoebe Mills, a student at Chattanooga’s Girls Preparatory School, won first place for her painting titled “Bus Window,” depicting a young woman seated on a bus at night.
Taking second place was Emma Campbell, who attends Baylor School in Chattanooga. Her creation, “Perspectives,” gives a close-up view of part of an elephant.
Zoe Rye, also a Baylor School student, won third place for “Virtual Reality.” A young woman is illuminated by the glow from her smart phone in that painting.
All of the students who submitted entries received certificates, courtesy of ArtsBuild, the Chattanooga-based arts organization. With support from the Roane State Foundation, students received awards of $100, $75 and $50, respectively, to the top three finishers.
The second- and third-place winners’ creations will be displayed in Fleischmann’s Chattanooga district office.
Winning honorable mentions were Morgan Bakaletz of Anderson County High School, Abigail Hegwood of Girls Preparatory School for two entries and Phoebe Mills. Their artwork will be on exhibit for a year in the congressman’s field office in Oak Ridge.
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