Out of 21 entries, young artist Savannah Woodson Reeves was named the first-place winner of the Congressional Institute’s annual art competition for the Virgin Islands district.

Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.

Twenty-one entries were displayed at a reception on St. Thomas last Thursday at the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts announcing the artist whose work would represent the Virgin Islands in Washington, D.C. A similar reception will be held at the Frederick Dorsch Cultural Center in Frederiksted onThursday. Entries were submitted by students attending St. Croix Educational Complex and Good Hope Country Day School on St. Croix and V.I. Montessori School and Charlotte Amalie High School on St. Thomas.

Woodson Reeves, a V.I. Montessori School student, has been painting since she was a small child, something she says came naturally to her. Her portrait of a Black man was created in acrylic with gold leaf, a work she completed in two weeks.

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“I wanted to capture, in essence, a vulnerability with the exposed Black male’s skin, while also portraying strength to show that Black men are beautiful but they are also powerful,” she said.

Students submitted entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. In the Virgin Islands, the office of Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett sponsored the competition. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.

LaVerne Joseph and Cletis Clendinen from Plaskett’s office as well as Virgin Islands Council on the Arts the Executive Director Tasida Kelch presented the award.

“I was really excited when I found out I came in first. It was exciting to feel recognized and be rewarded for something I’m passionate about,” Woodson Reeves said.

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