For the third year in a row, Congressman Blumenauer will hold his own OR-03 Arts Competition for high school students in his congressional district in lieu of participating in the traditional Congressional Art competition. The winning entry will hang in Congressman Blumenauer’s Washington, DC office.
Republican members of the House of Representatives actually removed a students art from the wall. The decision to censor a student artist who had depicted the conflict between the African-American community and the police surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, led Congressman Blumenauer to make this decision.
“Artistic expression is critical to a healthy and vibrant democracy. In good conscience, I cannot be part of a contest that restricts the expression of young artists and their first amendment rights,” said Blumenauer. “We must defend the arts – which I believe are now under attack by the President as he seeks to slash cherished programs like the National Endowment of the Arts. We can’t let artists lose their voices. The minute we let censorship take hold, the closer we get to an authoritarian regime.”
The traditional Congressional Art Competition allows high school students to submit artwork to their Congressional representative, and one submission from each district is selected as the winner. The artwork is then featured in the Capitol, alongside pieces from Congressional districts across the nation, to be enjoyed by members of Congress, staff, and visitors alike.
The competition sparked controversy <https://blumenauerforms.house.gov/components/redirect/r.aspx?ID=1647-211538> in 2017 when some Republican members of the House removed a painting from display. In Congressman Blumenauer’s opinion, this act inherently silenced the student artist from Missouri. The painting portrayed conflict between the African American community and law enforcement in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen. Republican leadership repeatedly called for the painting’s removal, and as a result, it was permanently removed—deemed a violation of a rule that artwork in the Capitol cannot “depict contemporary political controversy, or of a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.” Following this incident, Congressman Blumenauer instituted his own OR-03 Arts Competition.
Student submissions and are due in our office, located at 911 NE 11th Ave. Suite 200, Portland, Oregon by Wednesday, May 1st at 5:00pm.
Please note that this is a secure building and you will need to call 503-231-2300 to have someone come down to receive your art.