Karina Vela’s dreams of becoming a recognized artist are coming true this summer.
Vela, a senior at Palmview High School, has a won the Spring 2020 Congressional Art Competition for the 28th district of Texas, the La Joya school district announced in a Wednesday press release.
As part of this competition held each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district.
Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.
Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.
“I cried when I first heard this news, never did I think I’d accomplish so much with my art,” Vela said. “My heart is still pounding.”
As part of her award, Vela will go to Washington and attend the Congressional Art Competition Reception in this summer and the Congressional Institute will coordinate a tour of the Capitol for Vela and a guest. Round-trip air travel will be provided by Southwest Airlines and her artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capital for an entire year.
“I’m amazed, it’ll be my first time traveling out of the state; it’s a dream come true,” Vela said. “I’m proud of myself, I never thought I’d get this far with my art.”
Vela submitted two pieces to the competition.
Her first submission was “Ying and Yang,” a a hybrid of photography and graphic design that depicts two models dressed in black and white.
“I’m one of the models and it represents the beauty of art, differences between man and woman and the definitions of yin and yang itself,” Vela said.
Her second piece, titled “Alter Ego” depicts Vela in a dress made out of comic books. It was crowned as the winning art piece in the competition.
“It represents how I see myself. I am creative, outgoing and I express myself, that’s me and my art,” Vela said. “It was amazing that out of all the artwork they chose, they picked one of mine to display in the US Capitol. I am representing not just my district, but south Texas in going to Washington DC and having a great time and meeting all these important people. It’s an honor and privilege.”
Vela has been in Palmview High School’s art club since she was a freshman at school. She won’t be attending college this fall as she plans to take a gap year to start an online store for her artwork, she said.
“I am working at a local Dollar Tree and am investing in opening up an online store for my art business to sell prints, canvas artwork, little things here and there,” Vela said. “I want to become an artist; I’ve done art since I was six years old and want to work on my art businesses. My parents are supportive of it and I plan to attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to study art at the end of my gap year.”