Annual Congressional Art Competition for high schoolers – Call for Submissions

By Zoë Strickland, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, March 16, 2021


Sonoma County students have taken first place in two of the last three years

Congressman Jared Huffman’s (D-San Rafael) office announced this week that the annual Congressional Art Competition has opened — the competition is open for digital submissions from high school students in the state’s Second Congressional District, which covers the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border. Entries are due by April 23.

Winning artwork is exhibited in the U.S. Capitol building for a year, where it sits with winning artwork from other Congressional districts throughout the country. The winning artist will receive two round-trip tickets to Washington, D.C. to view their artwork and upon admission acceptance, the winning artist will be eligible for a scholarship to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design.

“I am excited to announce the 2021 Congressional Art Competition is now open for digital submissions,” said Huffman in a statement. “We’ve all been finding new ways to connect and engage with each other during the pandemic, and this year we have a new online submission process that will allow young artists from up and down California’s North Coast to submit their pieces for a chance to have their art hang in the United State Capitol Building.”

While the district contest is open to students spanning greater northern California, students from Sonoma County — more specifically, Cloverdale — won the contest in both 2019 and 2018. In 2019, Cloverdale High School student Eden Winniford won the contest with her pen and Copic marker piece “Deportado” and in 2018, Johanna Echols Hansen school student Jaslyn Ortiz won for her piece “I Love You, California.” Diya Patel of Ukiah won last year.

Both Winniford and Ortiz were assigned to create an art piece about California for their Advanced Placement art classes during their senior years.

“I didn’t really want to do a poppy,” Winniford said in a 2019 interview following the announcement of her win. “I figured that I had the chance to use my voice in an effective way to say something that I thought was important. So I decided that I wanted to say something that I think — maybe it isn’t uniquely Californian — but it is very Californian because we are so close to the border and it happens every day.”

Winniford’s art piece depicts the shadow of a child tugging on the China Poblana dress of an adult. The image, combined with the title of the artwork, attempts to invoke the reality of the troubles facing many migrant families.

Ortiz’ winning piece, created in markers, depicts a female face imposed on a fire-colored background, with many natural pieces of the California environment created in her features. In a 2018 interview, she said that she began it during the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires.

“During that time I had a greater appreciation of Sonoma County and where I live,” she said. “I saw the valleys and the rivers and the vineyards and I was like ‘Wow, this place is beautiful, how come I never noticed this?’ So I drew that piece to show how beautiful Sonoma County and California can be, especially the parts you never see. And, also, how the fire brought more importance to Sonoma County and how people were noticing it more. I just wanted to show how brave the people are and how beautiful this place is.”

According to Huffman’s office, the Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, over 650,000 high school students have been involved with the nationwide competition.

Students must submit a completed entry form through Congressman Huffman’s website and email a picture of their submission to by April 23.

Guidelines for the Congressional Art Competition

Artwork must be two-dimensional.

Each piece can be no larger than 26 inches high by 26 inches wide and 4 inches deep, including frame (frame optional unless selected as winner).

Artwork cannot weigh more than 15 lbs.

Artwork must be original in concept, may not violate U.S. copyright laws, and must be original in medium (scanned copies are not allowed).

Acceptable media for artwork are as follows:

  • Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.
  • Drawings: pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink, markers
  • Collage: two dimensional
  • Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints
  • Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc.
  • Computer-Generated Art
  • Photography

All submissions must be submitted online by April 23, 2021. See instructions here. Do not mail in your submission.

Educators and students seeking more information may visit Congressman Huffman’s website or the official House of Representatives competition webpage.

This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at