Art contest invites Illinois students to let their imaginations run wild


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Wonder, curiosity, and questions are a part of growing up … and they’re the heart of the annual student art contest sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois State Board of Education.

Illinois students have until Jan. 5 to submit entries on the theme of “I wonder …” The contest asks children from kindergarten through high school to interpret the theme however they want in two-dimensional art, such as a drawing, painting or collage.

The contest has four age groups: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Each age group will have a winner and two runners-up. The winners will be announced March 11 to commemorate Arts Education Week.

All winners and runners-up will have their work displayed by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum through Aug. 15, and the artwork chosen as “best of show” will be used on a poster sent to schools to celebrate Arts Education Week, March 11-15, 2024. The winner will also be recognized at an ISBE Board meeting, and a framed copy will hang in the Board office.

“Saying ‘I wonder …’ is the first step in changing the world. It leads to innovation in arenas from science and medicine to art and history,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “We can’t wait to see how the state’s young artists tackle such a fun, thought-provoking theme.”

Contest submissions may be up to 14 inches by 11 inches. They cannot feature copyrighted characters such as Batman. More details are available here. Entries do not have to be submitted via schools; youth groups, home-educated children or anyone else can participate. All that is required is that the artist is a student at any public, private, alternative, or home school in Illinois.

“We are proud to sponsor this annual student art contest to recognize the critical place of the arts in a well-rounded education,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Sanders. “Every student deserves access to the arts. Learning and practicing the arts supports students in developing creativity, self-expression, and confidence. Illinois has incredibly talented artists at every age, and I look forward to seeing what our young people ‘wonder’ about through this year’s art contest theme.”

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.

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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.

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