Junior Rachel K. smiling with her winning artwork titled "Letting Go"

Rachel Keenan, a junior at Spring Lake Park High School, won first place for her acrylic painting titled “Letting Go” in the 2021 MN-05 Congressional Art Competition.

The theme for the MN-05 Art Competition, hosted by Representative Ilhan Omar’s office, was Connecting Across Isolation. Students were encouraged to think about how they have been able to find community despite unusual circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the meaning of connection through isolation.

Rachel resonated with the theme. She designed her art piece using the experience of losing her grandma to COVID-19 last December and the unrest happening within the community while also referencing more hopeful moments in time.  

“My art piece ‘Letting Go’ is about the drastic contrast between the good and the bad found in the pandemic,” says Rachel.

When creating the piece, Rachel channeled the experience and the emotions she felt into each of the elements. The white hand represents loss. The negative area represents sadness and anger. The colorful hand represents coming together.

Although we had some hard times, we also had a lot of good times and came together and grew as people and as a community. That is the emotional contrast I wanted to show in my piece and the contrast in the color and the shading represents those attributes very well. - Rachel Keenan

Rachel’s artwork will be displayed in the Cannon Tunnel at the United States Capitol from October 2021 to March 2022. She also will have the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. and see her artwork on display.