Four students honored in art contest exploring ‘survival through self-expression’


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Four Illinois students who beautifully illustrated the power of self-expression are being honored as winners of the annual art contest sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois State Board of Education.

Their entries celebrate the simple joys of love and kindness and the beauty of nature. They also capture art’s power to inject color into a lonely world or penetrate the masks people so often wear.

The theme of the contest was “Survival Through Self-Expression.” The winning entries will be displayed at the Lincoln Presidential Library, alongside eight runners-up.

The “best in show” award went to 13-year-old Elizabeth Ramirez for her black-and-white drawing of a women adorned with a few colorful flowers.

Her entry will be used on a poster sent to all schools during Illinois Arts Education Week, March 14-18. Ramirez will be recognized at an ISBE Board meeting and have a copy of her drawing hung in the Board office.

Elizabeth Ramirez, winner of the 2022 student art contest

“The striking red gladiolus flowers growing beneath the woman’s hand/arm symbolize strength that was hidden but is now growing and beginning to show. The yellow and orange marigold flower represents a light within a person, with the colors meaning positive energy and optimism,” Ramirez said.

Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, thanked all the students who entered for sharing their artistic vision.

“It takes real bravery to put your energy and emotion into a piece of art and then share it with the world,” Shutt said. “I’m grateful to the students who entered the contest and incredibly impressed by what their art said about the power of self-expression in our lives. It’s an honor to display their work at the presidential library”

“Every year, I look forward to seeing the latest student artwork displayed in our offices, but I’m especially excited about this year’s contest theme, ‘Survival Through Self-Expression,’” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “The past two years have been challenging for everyone, but the creativity, resilience, and generous spirit of our students has shined through even the darkest moments, and for that, we are grateful every day. This competition always results in incredible work, and I can’t wait to see the work of this year’s winners displayed in our Board room and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.”

Ramirez, from Old Orchard Junior High in Skokie, won in the category for students in grades 6-8.

The winner for grades 9-12 was 15-year-old Vidipta Roy from Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.

“This piece is my rendition of how an individual survives in a society. The black and white mask represents the idea that society is built on the foundations of right and wrong. However, the person behind the peeling mask remains in color to depict their complexity,” Roy explained.

The winner for grade 3-5 was 11-year-old Daleia Muhammad-Walker from Flossmoor. “Nature is the reason why I survive. Nature is what keeps me pushing. That’s why I choose my drawing,” she said.

Seven-year-old Diana Lepak from Westchester Primary School was the winner in the category for kindergarten through second grade. “My painting is about how to survive by having kindness, being brave, strong, smart, and have a lot of love,” she said.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.

Follow the ALPLM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The mission of the Illinois State Board of Education is to provide leadership and resources to achieve excellence across all Illinois districts by engaging legislators, school administrators, teachers, students, parents, families and other stakeholders in formulating and advocating for policies that enhance education, empower districts and ensure equitable outcomes for all students. Its vision of Illinois is a state of whole, healthy children nested in whole, healthy systems supporting communities wherein all people are socially and economically secure.

Social Links