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Student-artists earn 2021 Congressional Art Competition honors

Congratulations to Tai Nguyen, a junior at Park Center Senior High School, and Matt Macmillan, a senior at Maple Grove Senior High School, for placing first and third, respectively, in the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for Minnesota's Third District!

Nguyen's beautiful piece, Entrenched Blossoms, was selected as the winner by a panel of expert judges and will be displayed with other winning artwork in the U.S. Capitol for one year. 

“I want to issue a heartfelt congratulations to Tai for winning this year’s Congressional Art Competition,” said U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips. “All of our student-artists showed remarkable resilience, spirit and skill in their pieces, which were among the most moving and impressive my office has seen in the three years we’ve hosted the Congressional Art Competition.”

Nguyen considers himself an "observer"—a quality that he believes also inspires his art.

"I have the belief that the relationship between an artist and the world is [one] of appreciation," Nguyen added. "I always look for underrated, often unseen artists that have their own styles. I am amazed by those who are able to create with such passion with their work, but are not as appreciated by the broader world...My inspiration comes through various concepts, from the joyful to the bleak. All that matters to me is the artist's integrity and truth. That is what I look for in art and what inspires me."

For Macmillan, the time and detail he put into his complex piece, Experimental Rat, paid off with a top three finish.

"The theme for the set of pictures I'm doing right now is dystopia/apocalyptic, and I thought a rat fit in pretty well with that theme," he said. "I sketched out the rat and then lined in with micron pens, and then colored the background with a copic marker. I became aware that inking and lining fur for pictures this way takes a lot of time."

View Nguyen's (first photo) and Macmillan's (second photo) artwork in the gallery at the bottom of this post!

About the competition

The U.S. House of Representatives has sponsored this nationwide high school arts competition every spring since 1982, and more than 650,000 students have participated over three decades. In Minnesota’s Third District, a panel of judges including Ken Herren, artist and CEO of Your Art’s Desire; Stephanie Frey, Minnesota artist and art educator; and Jenny Stice, another Minnesota artist and art educator, reviewed 47 pieces from students at nine high schools for originality and technical skill.

view all art submissions

Entrenched Blossoms by PCSH's Tai Nguyen
Experimental Rat by MGSH's Matt Macmillan