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Cherry Creek High School students win Congressional Art Competition

Alia ParisEmily ChangAlia Paris and Emily Chang, both seniors at Cherry Creek High School, were awarded first and second place respectively, in the 2023 Congressional Art Competition for the 6th congressional district, which includes all of Aurora, parts of Centennial and Littleton, and the communities of Brighton and Henderson.

High school students who live in the district could submit art in a variety of two-dimensional mediums, including paintings, drawings, collages, prints, photographs, mixed media, and computer-generated art. The winners were announced during an art showcase held May 1 at The People’s Building in Aurora.

Congressman Jason Crow at Congressional Art Showcase“We have one of the most vibrant and diverse districts in the country and displaying the talent from across the district is one of my favorite things to do,” said Congressman Jason Crow, who represents the 6th congressional district. “You just see the passion these students bring and the emotion behind these pieces, as well as the pure talent. So it’s a real joy.”

Every spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors the nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.

Gift to the Next GenerationAlia Paris received first place for her digital painting titled “Gift to the Next Generation.” It carries a profound and powerful message about pollution and climate change.

“It feels like a lot of people in power don’t see or recognize the high, high cost of carbon, plastic waste, fossil fuels, and other human activities on our planet,” Paris said. ”It’s easy for us to ignore it because we have the resources to do so. I purposefully used the dramatic perspective and sharp brushwork to highlight the disparity between the two communities,” she added.

Paris’ artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. After graduation, she plans to take a gap year to build a custom portfolio for a top animation program at Sheridan College with the hopes of one day working at Pixar or another top animation studio.

BethnicEmily Chang received second place for her painting in gouache, a water medium paint, titled “Bethnic.” It also carries a powerful message.

“Despite Colorado being landlocked, it’s important to bring attention to humanity’s impact on our oceans even if we aren’t immediate witnesses to the impact of our actions,” Chang said. “I wanted to bring awareness to deep-sea trawling and the damage it causes to the often unseen environment, the benthic zone. The limited palette emphasizes the trawling boats in strong contrast with the deep sea floor environment - the delicate ecosystems deep underwater are heavily impacted by unregulated commercial fishing,” she added.

Chang’s piece will be displayed in Congressman Crow’s district office in Aurora. She also plans to take a gap year after graduation. Chang, who has been accepted to Dartmouth University, will be deferring her enrollment to pursue a design internship at Jacob Jansen in Denmark, as well as do some medical volunteer work in Vietnam. 

“I am astounded by these two remarkable students,” said Alissandra Seelaus, an art teacher at Cherry Creek High School. “They have normalized achievements in recent years that are truly incredible. They are the kind of once-in-a-career students that become the anecdotes that inspire years of young artists to come. And I will miss them terribly,” she added.

Posted 5/16/2023.