The 2019 Annual Congressional Art Competition were announced this week at the RWJ-Hamilton Lakefront Art Gallery by Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith (R - Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer Counties), who sponsors the annual show for high school students in the Fourth Congressional District.

“When President Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act in 1965, he said: ‘Art is a nation’s most precious heritage,’” Congressman Smith told the students. “‘For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guide’s us as a nation.’ Quoting from the book of Proverbs, he continued, ‘And where there is no vision, the people perish.’”

“Tonight, we celebrate 69 amazing young artists and the works of art they have created,” Smith said. “Tonight, with our eyes and hearts and souls we breathe in the inspiration—the inner vision—each gifted artist has given to us to enjoy and appreciate. And tonight, we acknowledge extraordinary talent unleashed on canvas or some other medium and the years of nurturing it took to perfect that talent by parents, teachers and friends.”

The event, which Smith has sponsored for more than 20 years, was held at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (RWJ Hamilton).

RWJ President Richard Freeman was on hand for the ceremony.

Judging took place at RWJ Hamilton on April 5.

The winners are:

“Family Tree,” by Anna Effenberger, of Colts Neck, a 12th-grader at Ranney School. (Congressman Chris Smith's Office)
  • First Place Runner-up- “Biggest Catch,” by Meghan Cole, a 12th-grader at Wall High School. (oil on Masonite).
  • Second Place Runner-up- “Tea Time,” by Sarah Hendrickson, a 12th-grader at Wall High School. (white charcoal).
  • Third Place Runner-up- “The Watcher,” by Grace Puharic, an 11th-grader at Wall High School. (watercolor).
  • Honorable Mention- “Migration of the Nestingbacks,” by Catherine Epps, a 12th-grader at Steinert High School in Hamilton.(chalk).
  • Honorable Mention- “Bright Night,” by Stefani Stauffacher, a 9th-grader at Robbinsville High School. (Tempera paint).
  • Honorable Mention- “Furry Friend,” by Alexandria Lee, a 12th-grader at Wall High School, (scratch board).
  • Honorable Mention- “Tableau Self Portraits” by Alyssa Hagen, an 11th-grader at Allentown High School. (digital photography).
“Migration of the Nestingbacks,” by Catherine Epps, a 12th-grader at Steinert High School in Hamilton. (Congressman Chris Smith's Office)

The 2019 judges were Debbie Jencsik of Ocean County, Jim Inzero, of Ocean County and Rich Thompson formerly of Mercer County.

“Special thanks to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital-Hamilton, especially President Richard Freeman, Vice President Diane Grillo, and Lakefront Gallery Curator, Sheila Geisler, for graciously hosting us tonight,” Smith said. “And thanks to our art judges, Debbie Jencsik, Jim Inzero & Rich Thompson.”

Every year the Congressional Institute sponsors this national high school visual art competition to recognize and foster artistic talent in each congressional district.

Since the competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.

Participation in the contest is at the discretion of each Member office.

Students submit entries to their Member of Congress’s office, and a panel of district judges select the winners.

The Best in Show winners are recognized at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., and are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.

“Although only one artwork will be selected to hang in the U.S. Capitol where it will be seen along with submissions from every participating congressional district in America by nearly a half-million people, each of you are winners,” Congressman Smith said.

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