Danville high school students Menglin Cai and Kaitlyn Yasumura received runner-up and second runner-up honors, respectively, in the Congressional Art Competition of California's 11th District.
U.S. Rep Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) recently announced the top finishers of his annual contest, including Cai, an incoming sophomore at Monte Vista High School, in second place for her oil painting "The Future is Still Bright."
"We are in the pandemic, and we don't really go out and see how the world has changed," Cai said regarding her piece. "My painting shows that the grass is not that green and the sky is not that blue and he is not happy, yet the vibrant red outfit shows we should look forward to the future and change."
Cai said the painting influenced her to think more deeply about the impact that she wanted to have on the world and hopes her painting inspires others to look toward a bright and happy future after the struggles from the pandemic.
The winner of the competition is Eirene Acosta from Northgate High School in Walnut Creek for her work "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder." Yasumura, a Carondelet High School incoming junior from Danville, earned third place for her piece "Mr. Brocklehurst."
The Congressional Art Competition, announced earlier in March by DeSaulnier, encouraged students in his congressional district and Contra Costa County to participate by submitting their own original artwork.
Cai explained that she found out about the competition from her art teacher. "My art teacher told me I could do it and I joined," she said. "Since it was my first time, I thought it was really hard. I was not very good at oil painting so it was a hard piece for me."
"I saw one of my friends join and didn't think I would win anything. I just enjoyed my time creating art" she added.
Cai and Yasumura will have their works hang in DeSaulnier's Walnut Creek and Richmond district offices. Acosta's first-place artwork will be sent to Washington, D.C. to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for the next year along with other winning pieces from other districts and states.
In all, 29 pieces from students throughout the 11th Congressional District were submitted and judged by a panel including Sarah Lee and Lucy Snow from Los Medanos College Art Department; Toru Sugita, professor and chair of the art department of Diablo Valley College; and Anne Austin, curator at the San Pablo Art Gallery.
"Every year, the creativity of so many young artists through Contra Costa stands out in the submissions we receive for the Congressional Art Competition. The talent and imagination of our community is inspiring," DeSaulnier said in a statement.