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Congressman Hank Johnson

Representing the 4th District of Georgia

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Rep. Johnson awards $47,000 in scholarships to art winners

May 16, 2017
Press Release

Pictured above: Congressman Hank Johnson takes pictures with the winners of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition and their teachers. 

Students participating in this year’s competition are recognized during the program. 

On May 13, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) announced the winners of his 2017 Congressional Arts Competition at the Lou Walker Senior Center in Lithonia. Students were awarded four college scholarships worth a total of $47,000.

The Grand Prize Winner was Michelle Carmona, a senior from Brookwood High School. Carmona was awarded a $24,000 scholarship to the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) for her “Nature” photograph.

SCAD doubled their award from last year’s competition, which was $12,000.

After she was announced as the winner, Carmona simply said “Oh My God,” as she fought back tears to come to the stage to accept the grand prize. 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 434 other Congressional Art Challenge winners from around the country. The Brookwood senior also won two roundtrip airline tickets, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to attend the National Recognition Ceremony in Washington, D.C.     

First runner up was Mary Seol, a junior at Parkview High School. Seol was awarded a $12,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta for her “Child with Flowers” watercolors portrait.

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

Second runner up went to Juliana D’Amico, a senior at Brookwood High School. D’Amico was awarded a $7,500 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta for her “Pretty in Pink” photograph.

Third runner up was Cassidy Moncrief, a senior at Parkview High School. Moncrief was awarded a $3,500 scholarship to The Art Institute of Atlanta for her “Orange My Orange” photograph.   

Moncrief and D’Amico’s photographs will also hang in the Congressman’s district office for a year.   

Since 2007, Congressman Johnson has awarded more than $360,000 in arts scholarships to Fourth District students.

“We must appreciate every piece we see before us today because no matter what colors they used, no matter their interpretation, this is their art. This is a piece of them they gave to us,” said Rep. Hank Johnson. “Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are rights we hold dear and I hope that all of these pieces will speak to you in some way.”

One guest speaker and judge at the event, Kate McLeod, made an announcement during the program that the winning 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.

“We hosted the Congressman and his Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead event in March and after seeing the talents his students showcased, we knew we had to continue this great partnership,” said McLeod, who is the Head of School and Teacher Services at the High Museum of Art. “We look forward to showcasing some of these great pieces.” 

Another guest speaker and judge, Steve R. Allen, encouraged the students to keep pursuing their talent and pushing through with their passion. Allen has artwork hanging in both the Smithsonian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He was commissioned to paint several pieces for the Olympic Games, from 1996 to 2016, some of which he showcased at the May 13 program.   

Nearly 30 high school students from DeKalb, Gwinnett and Newton counties submitted artwork competing for the four college scholarships.

Along with McLeod and Allen, the other judges for Rep. Johnson’s 2017 Art Competition were: Debra DeBerry, Clerk of the DeKalb County Superior Court; Dr. Doreen Williams, Rockdale County Commissioner,  Vickie Turner, DeKalb County School Board Member; Fred Reynolds, Professional Artist and Lithonia Councilman; and Teresa Hardy, President of the DeKalb County NAACP. 

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 at Chapel Hill.

Members of the Miller Grove High School’s JROTC, who performed the Presentation of Colors, were also recognized by the Congressman for their hard work, training and commitment to defending our freedoms.  

For a complete photo album of the event, click here