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Congressman Richard Neal

Representing the 1st District of Massachusetts


Art Competition

"An Artistic Discovery"
Congressional Art Competition for High School Students


“An Artistic Discovery” is the annual nationwide Congressional High School Art Competition, sponsored by the Congressional Institute and coordinated by Members of the United States House of Representatives in their districts. Each year, Members of Congress conduct local art competitions in their districts. The winning piece of art from each district becomes part of an impressive display on national exhibition in the United States Capitol.

“An Artistic Discovery” provides Members of Congress and the public the opportunity to encourage and recognize the rich artistic talents of young Americans at a time when local cultural organizations and arts-in-education programs are being curtailed. I am sure that you will be quite impressed with the artwork that becomes part of the exhibit in the Capitol. You can view the most recent winners here.

2016 Winner

ARTIST: Mark Marsian Sweeney

SCHOOL/GRADE:  Holyoke Catholic High School/Senior

TITLE: Shadows

MEDIUM:  Charcoal on Paper

2017 Congressional Art Competition Information

For Students and Teachers


General Guidelines

  • The competition is open to high school students only. Exceptions may be made for schools that have 7th through 12th grades on one campus.
  • Artwork must be two-dimensional.
  • Each piece can be no larger than 28” x 28” x 4” (28 inches high, 28 inches wide, and 4 inches deep), including the frame. If your artwork is selected as the winning piece, it will be required to be framed and must still adhere to the size guidelines. Framing guidelines apply only to the ONE winning piece the will be sent to Washington, DC.
  • Artwork cannot weigh more than 15 pounds.
  • Artwork accepted mediums are as follows:
    • Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.
    • Drawings: colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels, charcoal (It is recommended that charcoal and pastel drawings be fixed.)
    • Collage: must be two dimensional
    • Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints
    • Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc.
    • Computer-generated art
    • Photography

  • Each entry must be original in concept, design, and execution and may not violate any U.S. copyright laws. Any entry that has been copied from an existing photo (not the student’s own), painting, graphic, advertisement, or any other work produced by another person is a violation of the competition rules and will not be accepted. Work entered must be in the original medium (that is, not a scanned reproduction of a painting or drawing).
  • Each School may submit up to 20 entries.
  • Entries must be received in Congressman Neal's Office by the Thursday before April vacation.
    • Artwork must be delivered to either the Springfield District Office (300 State Street, Suite 200, Springfield, MA) or the Pittsfield District Office (78 Center Street) prior to that date, or…
    • We will pick up your entries! Your artwork must be ready and in the School office on the Thursday before April vacation (in the morning).
    • Please contact Jeanne Ahern to let us know if you need a pick up.
    • If you are home schooled or attend outside the district, please call or email and we will make arrangements.


  • Artwork will hang in the Capitol for the entire year of the exhibition and cannot be returned to the students earlier. Students should, therefore, submit artwork they will not need for other purposes.



Suitability Guidelines

  • As outlined in these guidelines, the final decision regarding the suitability of all artwork for the Congressional Art Competition exhibition in the Capitol will be made by a panel of qualified persons chaired by the Architect of the Capitol. While it is not the intent to censor any artwork, we do wish to avoid artwork that is potentially inappropriate for display in this highly travelled area leading to the Capitol.
  • Artwork must adhere to the policy of the House Office Building Commission. In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. It is necessary that all artwork be reviewed by the panel chaired by the Architect of the Capitol and any portion not in consonance with the Commission’s policy will be omitted from the exhibit.


Student Information and Release Form

  • Each entry must include a Student Information and Release Form.
  • The information requested on the first page of the form should be provided as thoroughly as possible. Students should list their mailing addresses, if different from their residential addresses. The form requires a description of the artwork, which should be detailed, clearly identifying the major elements of the work. For example, “self-portrait” or “a picture of two people” would be unacceptable, due to the large number of works that would fit that description. “A painting of two people; the one on the left wears a green sweater and khaki pants; the one on the right wears a black shirt and a striped skirt. A dog sits at their feet” is an example of an acceptable description.
  • The second page of the Student Information and Release Form contains a legal release and a certification that the artwork is original in design and execution. The student, an art teacher, and a parent or guardian must sign where appropriate. Entries without signed originality certifications and artwork releases may not be accepted.
  • A TYPED copy of the Student Release Form, signed by the teacher, a parent or guardian, and the student, and must be securely attached to the back of the artwork to certify the originality of the piece.