FORT SCOTT, Kan., — The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC) announced the nine winners of the 8th annual ARTEFFECT competition. The international competition challenges students to creatively interpret the stories of Unsung Heroes through original works of art accompanied by artist impact statements. LMC awarded the $6,000 Grand Prize to Celine Fong, an 11th grader at Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York. Over $10,000 in cash prizes was awarded to the eight other winning students across the high school and middle school divisions.
[Watch Celine's Announcement]
“The works of art submitted by our ARTEFFECT winners show their visionary thinking and the superior nature of their creative skills,” said LMC Chief Executive Officer Norm Conard. “Our team at the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes lauds the vivid imagination of these student champions and the excellence of their work.”
“This is a unique competition where students are encouraged to explore the Unsung Heroes as role models as well as discover the relevance of their own art-making,” said Dr. Toni Guglielmo, Director of ARTEFFECT. “While learning about these individuals from across history, students also discover the impact of sharing these stories with their communities through their artworks.”
Fong’s oil painting A Beacon of Hope depicts the story of Unsung Hero Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat who saved thousands during World War II by secretly issuing passports in Nazi-occupied France. He was also the sole Iranian diplomat who remained in Paris during the occupation, where he convinced the Germans to exempt Jugutis—a term for the descendants of Persian Jews who continued to practice Judaism—from Nazi anti-Jewish measures.
“As a 21st century student and artist, I believe in the deep investigation of personal narratives to gain insight about change-making role models and engage with powerful stories that can refocus our evolving world,” Fong wrote in her impact statement. “In reaffirming the unacknowledged heroes from the past, we have the power to amplify their contributions, preserve their memories, and better comprehend our collective history to engender a well-informed future.”
In addition to taking home cash prizes, winners have their artworks and excerpts from their impact statements showcased on LMC’s website, listed along with their sponsoring teacher. Additionally, the award-winning artworks are displayed in LMC’s Hall of Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, a museum and research center visited by thousands annually from across the globe.
The $3,000 High School Best in Show prize was awarded to 12th grader Breanna Zaborowski, who recently graduated from Hartland High School in the Detroit suburb of Hartland, Michigan. Zaborowski’s mixed media artwork A Triple Threat presents a portrait of Unsung Hero Florence Kelley with narrative elements. As a social reform activist, Kelley spent decades inspecting, advocating and lobbying for safer factories, after which she helped found the NAACP with W.E.B. Du Bois. Her work brought about the 1893 Factory Act, the first state law in the U.S. prohibiting employment of children under 14, and the Meat Inspection and Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
[Watch Breanna's Announcement]
Winning the $2,000 High School Second Place prize was Amelia Ghannam, an 11th grader at Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, within Mercer County, New Jersey. Her entry Hiawatha, Uniter of the Iroquois is a chalk pastel drawing that honors Hiawatha. An Onondaga chief and skilled orator, Hiawatha helped unite the five nations of the Onondaga, Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca into the Iroquois Confederacy.
[Watch Amelia's Announcement]
The recipient of the $2,000 Middle School Best in Show prize was 8th grader Jennet Koroglu from LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida. Her digital artwork THERE IS NO BREAD! represents the bold actions of Unsung Hero Gareth Jones in a propaganda-style poster. Jones was a 20th century journalist who exposed the human-made famine, the Holodomor, that plagued Ukraine under Stalin’s rule. His work was met with resistance by both U.S. and Soviet media, and his death was at the hands of Stalin’s secret police in Japanese-occupied Mongolia.
[Watch Jennet's Announcement]
From Jericho, New York, Jericho Middle School 8th grader Chloe Hu won the $1,000 Middle School Second Place prize. Her artwork Genius Inventor Behind Beauty combines pencil and digital art to celebrate Hedy Lamarr, an actress and inventor whose discoveries aided the Allies in World War II and served as the basis for modern day Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This technology, known as “frequency-hopping spread spectrum” (or FHSS), manipulates radio frequencies causing the signal to hop between frequencies, which disables an enemy from jamming a signal.
[Watch Chloe's Announcement]
New this year, LMC designated a $1,000 Spotlight Prize for entries celebrating Unsung Heroes previously underrepresented in the ARTEFFECT competition. This award went to Nora Morrow, an 8th grader at LaVilla School of the Arts. Her work Reaching for Vivien uses block printing ink on paper to commemorate Unsung Hero Vivien Thomas, a doctor whose medical research resulted in a surgical solution to “blue baby syndrome.” Thomas created the tools necessary to perform the surgery on a human and, within a year, over 200 successful operations were performed.
[Watch Nora's Announcement]
Two students received $500 Certificate of Excellence prizes in the High School division. Emily Hammill, a 12th grader at Olympia High School in Olympia, Washington, received a certificate for her ceramic sculpture Voice of the People which honors Unsung Hero John Avery Lomax. Lomax was an American musicologist who documented and preserved American folk traditions and songs such as “Home on the Range.” Eleventh grader Emily Dalcamo of Sparta High School in Sparta, within Sussex County, New Jersey, celebrates Unsung Hero Virginia Apgar in her digital work The Apgar Score. Apgar was an obstetrical anesthesiologist and the inventor of the A.P.G.A.R. score, which determines a baby’s health one and five minutes after birth.
[Watch Emily Hammill's Announcement]
[Watch Emily Dalcamo's Announcement]
Eighth grader Emily Leonard from LaVilla School of the Arts received a $250 Certificate of Excellence in the Middle School division. Leonard’s mixed media sculpture Future of the Sea pays homage to Unsung Hero Sylvia Earle, an American marine biologist. Earle’s work in conservation and advocacy includes the creation of Marine Protected Areas, where wildlife can thrive without human interference, and Tektite II, the first underwater habitat for humans.
[Watch Emily's Announcement]
The ARTEFFECT judging panel consisted of LMC’s executive leadership as well as visual arts experts at the Skirball Cultural Center, CalArts, Museum of Ventura County, and ArtCenter College of Design.
Submissions for the next ARTEFFECT competition will open in November 2023. Visit the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes for more information.
“In every endeavor, people make the difference, and just one person has the power to make a profound difference in the lives of so many people.” - Lowell Milken