CHS senior places 2nd in 4th Congressional District Art Competition

Cullman High School senior Ayuka Shichinohe displays her winning painting, “Fear.” (contributed)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman High School senior Ayuka Shichinohe recently won second place in the painting category in the 2020 4th Congressional District Art Competition.

“I am pleased once again to be a sponsor of the United States Congressional Art Competition for high school students within the 4th District.  This is an annual nationwide event that recognizes and encourages the artistic talent we have in our district. Students in grades 9-12 are encouraged to compete,” U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama said when announcing the call for entries back in early February.

The awards ceremony was held Friday, May 1 with a few changes due to COVID-19 restrictions. The winners were announced virtually on Aderholt’s Facebook page.

“Normally, they have a program they can go to and they name the winners and hand out the awards there,” said Cullman High School art teacher Elizabeth Miller. “This year they just had us do it that way, which I’m glad so the students could still do the project itself.”

The submission process was also hindered by the current shutdown. Miller said that normally the students would turn their artwork in to her and she would take the pieces to the congressman’s office.

“This year, the students had to submit them themselves by sending in a good quality picture,” she said. “It also affected how many people wanted to do it as well.”

Submissions were down this year with students being out of school; Miller said she encouraged all her students to enter the competition but noted, “Some students having to do jobs and work, stress of other classes and didn’t have the time and some didn’t have the resources at home to do a project that they felt would be good enough to turn in for the congressional district competition.”

Shichinohe submitted an oil painting of an octopus tentacle titled “Fear.”

She explained, “I chose to paint the octopus because I was terrified of tentacles. I wanted to get over my fear by painting them. Also, I wanted to portray the mysterious, unique creatures in the sea.”

Shichinohe said she had the painting finished and knew she would be turning it in for the competition.

Said Miller, “Ayuka was one of my students in my Art Studio class. For that class, it’s more hands-off and it’s more like they have their own studio and they can create any project they want to. They have to create a portfolio and have a central theme to it. Hers was how she sees the world and different things like that. She wanted to do an octopus because she actually doesn’t like octopus. She thinks the tentacles kind of gross her out. She wanted to tackle something that she didn’t normally paint because she doesn’t like it. She was coming from that aspect of trying to overcome a challenge.”

In 2019, Shichinohe won first place in painting category of the competition.

Miller said of her student, “She is fantastic as an artist. She has the talent chops to be able to animate something and make it look realistic. She is looking in that direction.”

Shichinohe hopes to continue her artwork after graduation from Cullman High School.

She said, “My future plan is to attend UAH to pursue a degree in computer animation, I am planning on transferring out of state to an art school after two years at UAH to immerse myself deeper and explore more aspects of the art world. I am very excited to improve my skills and gain more knowledge.”

The 4th Congressional District Art Competition features artwork in the categories of printing, photographs, painting, mixed media, collage, drawing and computer generated. The top three are chosen from each category, and the first-place winner from each category then competes for Best in Show.

Best in Show artwork will be displayed in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Capitol Complex for a year. This year’s Best in Show winner is Courtney Lupton from Guntersville High School. The People’s Choice Award winner is Joe Patton, also from Guntersville High School.

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Christy Perry