The artistic talents of three Tri-Valley high school students were recently honored with top awards by their local congressmen.
In the 15th Congressional District, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) awarded first place in his annual Congressional Art Competition to Jiahua Liang from Pleasanton's Foothill High School for his oil painting, "Prayer."
Third place also went to a Pleasanton student, Helen Chen from Amador Valley High for her color pencil drawing, "Red Plateau."
To the north in the 11th Congressional District, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) judged submissions for his competition and awarded third place to Haoran Xia from Monte Vista High School in Danville, for her work entitled "Old Man in the Snow."
For his first-place finish, Liang will see his original work hang in Washington, D.C., for the next year, in the tunnels under the U.S. Capitol.
In his description of "Prayer," Liang said: "The woman is in prayer. The map of our world has been ripped apart by bullet holes. War not only scars the landscape but also punctures holes in our hearts. Although she is safe, her heart is still with her home. She prays in hope of reuniting with family and friends."
"Jiahua's compelling call to peace comes after years of advanced art study and practice with Mr. Jian Wu and Mrs. Trish Fenton," Jian Wu, one of Liang's art instructors, told the Weekly. "Jiahua now uses his finely detailed art to raise awareness for societal problems. The woman in the foreground looks up as she prays for safety and security amid a backdrop of a bullet riddled map. Jiahua's vibrant and diverse color palette hits his point home; the piece is powerful and clear."
Wu added that on June 24, Liang attended an art reception in Washington, D.C., to celebrate his award and meet with other competition winners from across the country.
For anyone interested in viewing Chen's or Xia's artwork in person, "Red Plateau" will hang in Swalwell's district office in Castro Valley, and "Old Man in the Snow" will be on display at DeSaulnier's Walnut Creek and Richmond offices.
"This year's Congressional Art Competition submissions showcased tremendous creativity from across our district. The level of talent on display in each piece is inspiring," DeSaulnier said in a statement.
First prize for District 11's contest was awarded to Las Lomas High School junior, Yoon-Ju Kim, for the mixed-media piece entitled "Trapped."