Members of Congress who walk through Cannon Tunnel on their way to the United States Capitol will catch a glimpse of Turlock, or more specifically “Midnight Forest Dreams” by Pitman High School senior Jazmyne Griffin.
Griffin’s inclusion in Washington D.C.’s national exhibition is credited to nearly 4,000 Facebook “likes” or votes, that were awarded to the young artist as part of United States Congressman Jeff Denham’s 2015 Congressional Art Competition.
“It had meant the world to me that I won the competition,” said Griffin. “I had been surprised because in previous art contests I have participated, but never won. My only reward had been of excellence and participation.”
“I’m just happy,” continued Griffin.
The annual competition, which gives all 10th district high school students the opportunity to submit their original artwork, received a total of 35 submissions since opening the submission period in January.
“Originally, I had decided to take part in the 2015 Congressional Art Competition because I thought it would be fun and increase my artistic skills,” said Griffin.
However it appeared that Griffin’s artistic skills did not require that much improvement, as “Midnight Forest Dreams” surpassed her closest competitors by over 600 votes.
“For me, it means that this will be the first step within the world of adulthood, as well as being noticed,” said Griffin. “Not only that, but it also represents the hard work that my family, friends, and myself have put into the art piece in order to win.”
“I just wanted to make them proud and express myself,” continued Griffin.
According to Griffin, “Midnight Forest Dreams” represents a spiritual connection both with nature and ancestors.
“For the woman within the art piece, I used her as an example of how we shouldn’t judge one another by our skin color — whether we’re black or white, light skinned or dark skinned, or even black and blue — we are all God’s children and should be seen and treated as equal individuals,” said Griffin.
Adorned in piercings in her ears, septum, and cheeks, the woman also represents having a stable and durable life even when challenges appear, as well as Griffin’s belief that everyone must stay strong, accept their faith, and live life to the fullest.
According to Griffin, the moon and blue sky in the background represent trust, understanding, and progression while the trees represent the deceased.
“When we die, our souls may return to heaven or hell, but physically we become one with nature and that shows that no matter where we are or where we go, our family and friends will always be there in spirit and in our heart,” said Griffin.
Griffin was honored at a reception on Wednesday at the Mistlin Art Gallery in Modesto, along with second place recipient and Central Catholic High School student Rachel Kiesser for her acrylic painting, “Palette of Passion.” Third place was awarded to PHS student Habibatu Mboka for her oil painting, “Hold Your Breath and Count to Ten.”
As second and third place winners, Kiesser and Mboka will have their artwork on displace in Denham’s office in Modesto.
Griffin’s artwork will be featured for the next year in Cannon Tunnel, alongside other winning submissions from across the country. As the grand prize winner, Griffin will also receive a scholarship and have the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for a grand reception in the United States Capitol Building that will honor winning students, as well as announce the national winner.
“My favorite part of the competition would have to be the love and support from my family and friends,” said Griffin. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been successful within the competition.”
To view “Midnight Forest Dreams” and other submissions of the 2015 Congressional Art Competition, visit facebook.com/RepJeffDenham.