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Rep. Johnson awards $71,000 in art scholarships

DECATUR, GA — On April 21 at his Congressional Arts reception, Rep. Johnson (GA-04) announced the winners of his 2018 Congressional Arts Competition at the Lou Walker Senior Center in Lithonia. 

Students were awarded four college scholarships worth more than $70,000.

The grand prize winner was Arantza Pena Popo, a junior from Arabia Mountain High School. Popo earned a four-year scholarship worth $12,000 a year to attend the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) for her “Cultural Portrait” piece. Arantza described her work as a “cultural portrait of facial adornment from different cultures.” The Stone Mountain student used charcoal to create the winning piece. 

She will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to see her work displayed in the U.S. Capitol building, where it will hang for a year with other Congressional Art Challenge winners from around the country.

First runner up was Sindi Patani, a senior at Brookwood High School. Patani won a $12,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta for her “My Inner Yellow” photograph.

Her work will be displayed in Congressman Johnson’s district office for a year.

Second runner up went to Elizabeth Claire Patton, a senior at St. Pius X Catholic High School. The Stone Mountain student was awarded a $7,500 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta for her “Image of Me in Urban Savannah” photograph.

Third runner up was Esther Gibbs, a sophomore at Arabia Mountain High School. The Lithonia student was awarded a $3,500 scholarship to The Art Institute of Atlanta for her “Picture of Myself in African Adornments” pencil on paper drawing.   

Patton’s and Gibbs’ photographs will also hang in the Congressman’s district office for a year.   

Since 2007, Congressman Johnson has awarded more than $400,000 in arts scholarships to Fourth District students.

“What makes this competition so gratifying is that these young artists are sharing their lives with us,” said Congressman Johnson. “This art represents the freedom our students have to express their feelings and emotions in whatever medium they choose.”

This year’s art pieces will sit alongside last year’s competing pieces in an art exhibit debuting May 19 at the High Museum in Atlanta. The students’ pieces will hang in the High Museum of Art as a result of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (S.T.E.A.M.) partnership Congressman Johnson has with the museum; titled: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead.

Art reception guest speaker and judge, Steve R. Allen, is hosting a class at the May 19 event for students and young artists. Allen encouraged the students to keep pursuing their talent and pushing through with their passion. Allen’s artwork hangs in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. He was commissioned to paint several pieces for the Olympic Games from 1996 to 2016.   

Nearly 30 high school students from throughout the district submitted artwork competing for the four scholarships.

Along with Allen, other judges for the 2018 Art Competition were: Genet Hopewell, DeKalb Council for the Arts; Nancy Schulz, Newton County Commissioner; Charlene Fang, President of NACA (National Association of Chinese Americans); and David Johnson, Georgia State University art student.

The Chapel Hill Middle School Symphonic Ensemble performed throughout the reception. Band Director Natalie Brown was recognized by Congressman Johnson for her hard work and dedication to developing the middle school artists.