VU student's dramatic painting featured in national art exhibit on Capitol Hill - External Relations
VU student's dramatic painting featured in national art exhibit on Capitol Hill
October 27, 2020
VINCENNES, Ind. – A stunning, eye-catching painting is currently on
display in an iconic place where U.S. history is made.
Capitol Hill is where you can find an oil painting by Vincennes
University freshman Lydia Higgins on display to the delight of
lawmakers and other passersby in Washington D.C.
Her winning artwork titled “War Paints” is hanging in a pedestrian
walkway connecting the U.S. Capitol with the oldest House office building.
Artwork of winners from congressional districts throughout the United
States lines the Cannon
Tunnel connecting the Capitol with the Cannon House Office Building.
Every year, the Congressional Institute sponsors for students a
nationwide visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic
talent in the United States and each congressional district.
Higgins won first place in the 2020 Congressional
Art Competition for the Illinois 15th Congressional District
represented by U.S. Congressman John Shimkus.
When Higgins received the phone call notifying her that she won, her
excitement bubbled over.
“So many people can enter this contest, and it’s a huge district,”
she said. “I was blown away when I got the call.”
“War Paints” depicts a girl covered in paint with a butterfly over
her mouth. The paint is symbolic of the heartache and pain people are
experiencing. The butterfly represents beauty in the midst of the many
challenges her generation is facing including the Covid-19 coronavirus
and mental illness.
"Lydia's technique certainly stood out in her piece,” Shimkus
said in a press release.
Higgins, an elementary education major from Lawrenceville, Illinois,
spent around a month painting the winning piece.
“There’s so much going on in the world,” she said. “There’s Covid.
Lots of people are dealing with mental illness, especially in my
generation. So many people are having to deal with tough issues at
such a younger age. The butterfly represents hope, freedom, and what
we are working towards especially now during Covid."
Art is essential. We need it now more than ever. It enriches our
lives, relieves stress, helps shape ideas, and transports us to
As a future elementary teacher, Higgins plans to incorporate art into
her classroom. She is learning how to integrate art into daily
classroom instruction in an Art for the Elementary Teacher course she
is currently taking.
Higgins admits it breaks her heart that art education is being
eliminated or decreased in many K-12 schools.
“Art is such an important part of the learning process and being
creative,” she said.
She helps fulfill her passion and creativity by encouraging art among
younger students. Before Covid-19, she taught art to 4H students.
Covid-19 also kept Higgins from traveling to Washington D.C. to
attend a special ceremony celebrating the winners of the congressional
art competition. Winners of the art contest receive airline tickets to
attend a reception and unveiling of the exhibit. Unfortunately, the
event is not being held this year due to Covid-19.
Higgins hopes to make a trip next year to see her painting on display
in a famous place.
“I would enjoy getting to see it,” she said. “It’s not the end of the
world if I don’t get to see it. It’s still up there, but I would love
to get to see it.”
In 2018, her “Portrait” entry was an honorable mention selection in
the annual congressional competition. It was on display in one of the
congressman’s Illinois district offices.