KINGMAN - Two Kingman Academy High School students were among the five honored in the 2014 Congressional Art Competition, which evaluated 68 submitted pieces from throughout U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar's district.
Samantha Rezzetti, 18, a senior, won third place in the competition with her acrylic and floppy disk self-portrait.
Samuel Block, 16, a junior, took fourth place with his digital photograph of mushrooms in Hawaii. Block also won the People's Choice Award with a photograph he took looking up from the bottom of a tree in Oklahoma.
Rezzetti received a $500 scholarship to Mohave Community College, and Block got a $1,000 scholarship to Prescott College in Prescott.
"I was ecstatic because out of so many great art submissions, mine was chosen as one of the winners," said Rezzetti. "I put a lot of effort into my work because I wanted it to come out good. It looked just like I wanted and I was very happy with it. And the money that I won made the whole thing feel real."
Rezzetti, who has been painting for years, submitted three pieces for the competition sponsored by Gosar. An awards ceremony took place earlier this month at Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg.
For her self-portrait, Rezzetti glued old computer floppy disks to plywood and painted them with black and white acrylics. Then she covered them with acrylics of red, green and blue.
Rezzetti said a self-portrait at her age is important so she can look back on it years later and see how she has matured.
Her other submissions were a chalk pastel drawing of trees, bark and leaves, and a water color painting that incorporated her vision of two words - galaxy and intestines - given to her for the competition. Rezzetti crafted a painting of a woman in space whose internal organs were visible to onlookers.
Block entered two unaltered digital photographs in the competition. The mushroom photograph was unusual because it looked like tiny people holding umbrellas, he said, while the tree photograph was taken during a photo walk. It caught his eye because the tree was tall, had few leaves at the top and was framed by a vivid blue sky above it.
"I was very surprised when I found out both of my photographs had won," said Block. "I certainly didn't expect that. I'm just happy that a lot of people liked them and are willing to recognize them."
Donna McCarthy, art instructor at KAHS, said her students have entered the competition every year but two since she started teaching high school in 1997. McCarthy said artwork by both students has already been purchased for the Kingman Unified School District's growing collection.
"Only the most amazing work that is sophisticated, has great artistic skill and is top level goes to this competition," said McCarthy. "This is the major league and it's a big deal. I'm so proud of these students. They're the type we wait for as teachers but can't really teach because they already have that instinct and they get it. All we can do is guide them."