The winner of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for the 15th District is Anica Xie, a sophomore at Amador Valley High School, for her work, "Black Lives Matter."
"I chose Black Lives Matter as the subject for my piece because it is an important movement that the United States especially should never be silent about, so long as racially based violence continues to harm and take the lives of its citizens," Xie said. "It breaks my heart to see that many people ... spread more unproductive hate to each other's communities rather than lifting each other up."
Xie said her family started to enroll her in arts-and-crafts classes as early as preschool, which enabled her to try out all sorts of mediums through the years. Her winning piece was created using white charcoal pencil.
"I really think I started taking art more seriously during quarantine," Xie said.
An art teacher mentioned this year's contest to her, which she knew fellow students at her art studio had entered in the past.
"I thought it would be a cool experience to give it a shot myself," Xie said. "Preparing a piece takes a lot of brainstorming and tweaking."
Xie said she was "shocked" her work won top honors.
"I looked at a lot of the other artwork that was submitted, including the second- and third-place pieces, and the competition was definitely rough," she said. "Each piece was extremely eye catching and emotional."
This year 54 entries were received. Placing second was Hannah McCutcheon from Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon for "Discovering Your Identity" and taking third was Emily Chao, also from Amador Valley High, for "Memories of Perseverance."
"Black Lives Matter" will be sent to Washington, D.C., and displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year. The second- and third-place pieces will be hung in U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell's office in Castro Valley.
"Anica's piece perfectly captures the pain and progress of the Black Lives Matter movement, and I am thrilled to have it represent our district in the halls of Congress," Swalwell said. "Time and time again I am blown away by the artistic talent of the high school students in our district and this year's competition was no exception."
Art contest judges included Winda Shimizu, executive director of the Hayward Arts Council; Bonnie Stipe, lead painting instructor at Chabot College; and Anne Giancola, visual arts manager at Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center.