Raelynn Cui, who just completed her freshman year at Hopewell Valley Central High in Pennington, tied for second place at the seventh annual ArtEffect Project International Competition.
The contest, through the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC) in Fort Scott, Kansas, challenges middle and high school students to honor unsung heroes with creativity and skill, according to a press release issued by LMC.
LMC announced the nine contest winners on June 15.
Raelynn received one of two $2,000 prizes. She was the only student from New Jersey named the winner. His “Man Behind the Camera” entry is an artistic profile of Lewis Hine, a photographer who advocated for child labor laws and fought for social justice, according to the press release.
In her online announcement, Raelynn said she would like to see what she has done “as an extension of what [Hine] was trying to do.
“In all his photographs, he forced you to look at these children, and [in] a lot of them, these kids, were making direct eye contact,” she said. “I tried to instill that in my paintings, everything I noticed in what he was doing, in his photography, right on the canvas.”
Lora Durr, a teacher at Hopewell Valley Central High Art who is an LMC scholar and was alongside Raelynn for the announcement, said she was proud of her student.
“[Raelynn] could have very easily done the whole thing with oils only, but she thought it would be important to incorporate other materials and so part is done with charcoal, part is done with oil. It creates a wonderful sense of depth, contrast and emotion in the room,” she said.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conrad said, “ArtEffect winners submit artwork that demonstrates visionary thinking and creative skill of a superior nature.
“We at the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes salute the excellence and active imagination of our student champions,” he said.
All winning works are displayed on the LMC website and in LMC’s Hall of Unsung Heroes in Kansas, which is a museum and research facility visited by thousands of people each year.
The ArtEffect jury was made up of LMC executives and notable figures from the art design world, including professionals from ArtCenter College of Design, California Institute of the Arts and Claremont Graduate University, according to the press release. .
Submissions for the next contest season will open next year on January 1, 2023 and close on March 25, 2023.
For more information, visit https://www.lowellmilkencenter.org/.