MARYVILLE – Reflecting the trying times we are enduring, an oil painting titled "War Paints" by Red Hill High School's Lydia Higgins has been selected as the winner of the 2020 Congressional Art Competition for the 15th District of Illinois, Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) has announced.

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"Lydia's technique certainly stood out in her piece. It is a worthy champion to wrap up my final art contest," said Shimkus, who is retiring from Congress at the conclusion of his current term.

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The painting depicts a girl in her late teens or early twenties, according to Higgins, who explained, "I created this piece with all the issues going on in the world right now, especially the coronavirus. This girl represents everyone fighting through this tough time in history. The paint covering her face represents the tough times we are going through, the heartache and the pain. The butterfly represents the beauty. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life. In this painting, the butterfly represents what we are fighting towards today: health, peace of mind, and safety."

As is tradition, "War Paints" will join other winners from congressional districts throughout the United States on display for the next year in the pedestrian tunnel that connects the U.S. Capitol with the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Not only did the current pandemic caused by the coronavirus influence the champion artwork, it forced the entire contest to become a contact-less online event. Instead of receiving the individual entries in his district offices, Shimkus had the artists photograph each piece and submit the photos electronically for the judging.

The Congressional Institute sponsors the nationwide high school visual art contest to recognize and encourage artistic talent in each congressional district. Since it began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.