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Baxter Academy Student Wins 2021 Congressional Art Competition for Maine’s 1st District

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) announced today that Baxter Academy senior Elwen Bernard has won the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for Maine’s 1st District. Her illustration Passport Photo will be on display in the U.S. Capitol for one year.

“Every year, the sheer talent of Maine student artists blows me away, and this year’s Congressional Art Competition was no exception. Art offers us a great outlet through tough times. I’m thrilled to see that students are still connected with their artistic processes after a year of unknowns and immense change,” said Pingree. “Elwen’s piece is poignant and stunning, and I’m sure that it will stand out when it’s on display at the Capitol. My thanks to all the students who participated this year—it is an honor to view your work.”

Competition juror Juliet Karelsen said, “In Elwen Bernard's highly skilled and sensitive portrait "Passport Photo," we encounter a real person whose strength, warmth, honesty, vulnerability and soul come through the finely layered and textured colored pencil markings. In a format (a passport photo) where the subject so often appears guarded, wearing a "say cheese!" smile or as a one dimensional version of the self, Elwen's complex portrait challenges this norm and exudes incredible depth.”

“It was such an honor to look closely at the students’ accomplished work and I was impressed by the level of engagement. To make art in the face of such a challenging and painful year is a radical act. It is my hope that these students have found some peace and a sense of purpose while making art during this difficult year,” added juror Breehan James. “A special congratulations to Elwen Bernard whose piece “Passport Photo” has taken First place. The highly skilled portrait drawing is felt. Wonderfully sensitive in touch, it exudes an inner life and an unassuming presence. It speaks loudly in its quiet expressiveness and subtly.”

The judges also recognized the works of five other 1st District students:

  • Headspace by Fiona Jason of Baxter Academy (Second)
  • Don and Gunner by Katilyn Sawicki of Freeport High School (Third)
  • In a Fog by Della Hutley of Baxter Academy (Honorable Mention)
  • I Can’t Breathe by Alexis Milem of Thornton Academy (Honorable Mention)
  • Climate Change: How Much Longer Can We Hang On To Our Burning Home by Kaylee Demers of Falmouth High School (Honorable Mention)

About the Congressional Art Competition:

Held each year, the Congressional Art Competition takes place in participating Congressional Districts across the country. One winning work from each District hangs in a special exhibit at the U.S. Capitol for a year. This year, a jury put together by the Maine Arts Commission and Maine College of Art selected Maine winners from the top finishers in the regional Scholastic Art Competition. 

Pingree has served as Chair of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee since January 2021, where she oversees funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and other cultural agencies. She serves as co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus.





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