Artwork created by a local teen will soon be on display in Washington, D.C.


Carolyn May, a Washington Community High School freshman, won the Congressional Arts Competition April 9. Her colored-pencil drawing of Madame Lillian Evanti, a Washington, D.C.-born opera singer, will hang in the passageway between the House office buildings and the United States Capitol for the next year.


 

Artwork created by a local teen will soon be on display in Washington, D.C.

Carolyn May, a Washington Community High School freshman, won the Congressional Arts Competition April 9. Her colored-pencil drawing of Madame Lillian Evanti, a Washington, D.C.-born opera singer, will hang in the passageway between the House office buildings and the United States Capitol for the next year.

May, 15, said she has always loved drawing. 

“My mom would always cart around my older sisters, and so I would just bring a pencil and paper and draw. I honestly can’t remember not drawing.”

“We always had a sketch pad with us,” her father, Tim May said.

May saw the photo of Madame Lillian Evanti in Smithsonian Magazine.

“I saw the picture and I really liked it,” May said. “When my teacher gave the assignment, I automatically thought of that photo.”

The assignment was to create a grid drawing.

“Each square is a different geometric shape,” her mother, Donna May, said. “One of them might have triangles, one might have swirls, one might have paisleys. So up close there’s a lot of detail, but as you step back it makes the image.”

“It’s pretty fascinating,” her father said.

Carolyn, who spent “an hour here and there” over the course of two weeks working on the drawing, said the final square is full of balloons to celebrate the fact that the piece was finished.

“I was so excited that I was finally going to have it done and that I wouldn’t have to carry it around anymore,” she said.

The competition, hosted by U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, is held nation-wide each spring. It serves as an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent in the nation, as well as in each congressional district.

“I am always amazed by the artwork submitted for the art show and competition. I was very impressed by Carolyn’s wining submission. She is well deserving of this year’s top honor,” Schock said in a press release April 9. “I’m proud the 18th district will be well-represented among the art on display in the Capitol.”

More than 200 pieces from 20 area high schools were entered in the competition.

Although Schock could not make it to the competition, he did give Carolyn a congratulatory phone call. She said she was surprised to hear from him.

“He just said congratulations and sorry he couldn’t be there,” she said.

Carolyn has taken art classes at Lakeview Museum since third grade and is currently taking Art 1 at WCHS.

“She’s gone to the art camp at Western Illinois University for three summers and they do a nice job there,” Donna said. “They have a lot of different media that they get to try. She gets to try sculpture and some Asian water brushes. They expose them to a lot.”

Despite this, Carolyn said she always comes back to drawing.

“I really just doodle a lot,” she said. “I’ve tried watercolor and I like pen, but I mainly just use pencil and just draw.”

“It’s way deeper than doodling,” her father said. “She’s being modest. She would draw masterpieces on placemats that you wouldn’t want to throw away when she was 4.”

Carolyn is in French Club and Science Club at WCHS, she is also involved with Tazewell County Youth Board and likes to read.

As for a career path, Carolyn said she is currently debating between art and biochemistry. 

“The art program at the high school has really grown,” Donna said. “There are a lot of classes for the kids to choose from and the teachers have been really supportive at all of the art shows. They’re just wonderful.”

The Mays plan to take a trip to Washington, D.C., this summer to see Carolyn’s artwork. She said she also hopes to visit the Smithsonian to see if the piece that inspired her winning drawing is still hanging.

Once the year is over, Carolyn said she plans to hang the piece in her bedroom.