Rep. Robin Kelly Honors Winner of Congressional Art Competition
United States Representative Robin Kelly recently invited Taylor Ausley, a local high school student who won the Congressional Art Competition in Illinois’s second district, to come to Washington D.C. and see her winning artwork at the U.S. Capital where it will hang for the next year.
The winning piece titled Chiefs Halo is a mixed-media artwork that combined wood burning and the use of conté, a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base.
“I would consider myself a mixed media artists. The piece that won was something I had never done before and that’s what I like to do. I like to use materials that aren’t really traditional like drawing and painting. Although I do like that, I prefer working with mixed media,” said Ausley.
The winning artwork is a portrait of a Native American man wearing a traditional feathered headdress. Ausley said that there wasn’t necessarily a message behind the Native American man that is being portrayed, but it was more so about trying new things and working with what was available.
“Once again, I wanted to try something different by burning into wood and then on top of that, I used a media that I had never used before called conté which is sort of like a hard pastel but it’s kind of different,” said Ausley.
She went on to say that more than anything, she was just utilizing what was around her.
“The subject matter was kind of an afterthought. The colors that I was using, like the reds and the oranges and the darkness of the burnt wood, I wanted to combine those together and it just so happened to be that the color pallet of the skin tone of a Native American was perfect so that’s how that came about,” said Ausley.
The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide high school visual art competition that is meant to recognize artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district, according to the U.S. House of Representatives. Every year, students submit entries to their representative’s office and each district selects a winning artwork which is then displayed at the U.S. Capitol.
“We had a record 37 students and nine schools from Chicago Heights to Bradley-Bourbonnais submitting artwork this year,” Congresswoman Kelly said in a press release. “The pieces were breathtaking and showed the depth of artistic talent that our students possess. My only regret is that we could not honor more students for their creativity.”
When she first started high school, Ausley said she didn’t take art seriously. After winning several art competitions in high school, she realized that art was her passion and is now preparing to pursue a career in art at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in the fall.
“It feels amazing,” Ausley said. “Winning this is a big step into my future.”