More than 300 high school students and art teachers participated in this year’s 10th Congressional District Art Show, enough paintings, photographs and prints to fill two floors of the George Washington University’s Enterprise Hall in Ashburn.
The exhibit opened for review by participants and parents Thursday night following a round of judging that included the selection of the top entries in each art category and one Best in Show selection that will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol, along with selections from other congressional districts across the nation.
The top honor went to Hope Martin, a junior at Battlefield High School in Prince William County. Her piece, “Bunny,” is a charcoal drawing showing a friend who was going through tough times on the verge of a smile, just before a enjoying a bit of laughter.
If it wasn’t special enough to have her work selected from among the record number of entries, Martin also is a rare repeat winner. She won the Best in Show prize during last year’s 11th Congressional District Art Show.
U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA-10), who sponsors the event, said he was surprised by the number of entries and the growth of the art show. He also discussed the important role art can play, recalling how a photo taken of a vulture standing over a dying child in the Sudan helped mobilize global humanitarian action in that country.
That theme also was highlighted by the event’s keynote speaker, Frank Lee Ruggles.
Although he has no formal training in photography, he worked behind the camera at the Smithsonian and as the eminent photographer for the National Parks Service, the position once held by Ansel Adams.
Ruggles said that he had hoped to provide words of inspiration to the young artists. “But it is you who have inspired me,” he said. “You people are just phenomenal.”
Through his work at the park service, Ruggles said he realized art can record history and create history. “Your art can take you incredible places, too,” he said, recalling a Christmas dinner shared with President and Mrs. Carter and an opportunity to stand atop Mount Rushmore and photograph from a spot where only few have stood before.
Ruggles will soon be a more familiar figure as the star of a new television series, “The Warrior Artist,” that will take viewers along his favorite National Park trails and provide photography lessons along the way.
This year’s art show featured works by students from 23 schools and from several homeschool students. The exhibit will remain on display through April. Enterprise Hall is located at 44983 Knoll Square on GWU’S 122-acre Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn.