MHS graduate wins competition, painting hangs in the Capitol Building
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Mabank High School graduate Kati Reese has a painting hanging in the halls of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. She won the honor when her high school art teacher Wendy Brantley submitted her work to the Congressional Art Competition for 2018.
Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.
Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.
Reese’s art began when she was much younger. She began painting in grade school and bringing her work to PK’s Hair Salon in Gun Barrel City. Her mother Kristi and grandmother Patsy own the salon where they have been doing their art on hair for years. She hung her work in the salon and sold many pieces.
The work that won the Congressional Art Competition, titled “Letters from Home,” was created in her sophomore year of high school. The 18 by 24-inch acrylic painting depicts a rose and on each petal is an excerpt from a soldier’s last letter home during the period from World War I to present day and was hand-written by the artist. The wax symbol of the Gold Star given to the Gold Star Mothers was also depicted.
The painting was selected as a winner for the Junior American Citizen Award by the Sarah Maples Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and chosen for the cover for their Veteran’s Day Program in 2018. An award was presented by DAR to Reese at the annual George Washington Tea Feb 20.
But, at that time, the original painting was missing from the high school, so it missed being entered into a national competition at that time. According to Reese, it was missing for an entire year and she was happy when it was returned to her. She had to restore it to its original glory, and now it hangs in Washington.
Mabank ISD paid for Reese and her family to take a trip to Washington D.C. in June, where her art teacher accompanied her to the award ceremony. She will attend the University of North Texas in Denton this fall where she will major in Communications with a minor in Fine Arts. She plans to be an art director.