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Artwork by Kenmore East High School student to be featured at US Capitol
Congressman Brian Higgins announced the winners of the Congressional Art Competition, which features the artwork of Western New York high school students and those across the country. The 2023 grand prizewinner from Higgin’s district is Kenmore East High School student Ava Valkwitch for her oil painting titled “Reinstein Woods.”
This year, Higgins received 22 pieces of artwork from students attending 14 local high schools. One piece of artwork from each congressional district is selected for display in the halls leading to the U.S. Capitol building.
“The talent and creativity of these students is outstanding,” Higgins said. “It’s great to have this opportunity to feature this work both in Western New York and on Capitol Hill.”
Art submissions from high school students throughout the district were on display in a public gallery in the lobby of the Larkin at Exchange Building in Buffalo and posted in virtual galleries through the congressman’s Facebook page and website. The public was invited to vote for their favorite piece through the online galleries. This year, close to 3,500 online votes were tallied through the virtual galleries.
The public selected “The City” by West Seneca East High School Student Leyna Diehl, which received over 900 votes, for the People’s Choice Award.
Below is a full list of 2023 art competition winners:
•Grand Prize: To be featured in Washington, D.C.
Ava Valkwitch, Kenmore East High School, “Reinstein Woods in Bloom”
•Best of WNY & People’s Choice Award: Online Vote Winner
Leyna Diehl, West Seneca East High School, “The City”
√ First runner-up: Madison Ralph, Niagara Falls High School, “A Chill School Day”
√ Second runner-up: Jolynda Wang, Williamsville North High School, “Lost Time”
√ Third runner-up: Jill Schneck, Mount Mercy Academy, “Bird Song Pond”
A panel of local artists review the student submissions and make recommendations based on technique, composition and display. Serving as judges this year were: Leslie Zemsky, a local artist, vice president of Larkin Development Group and past president of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery board of directors; Nancy Parisi, a photographer and journalist contributing to The Buffalo News, Buffalo Spree Magazine, and past president of CEPA Gallery; Jen Swan, executive director for Arts Services Initiative of Western New York; Camilla Hobs Lee, a board member of “Buffalo’s Own,” a not-for-profit group of artists and creatives in the City of Buffalo and a photographer with over 25 years of experience; and Evan Wright, the community and academic engagement manager at the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, vice president of the Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Society, and trustee and membership chair of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.