ST. LOUIS — Gabrielle Mitchell-Bonds, a senior at Rosati-Kain High School Mitchell-Bonds is headed to Harvard University, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, this fall to pursue a degree in sociology and African American studies.
She’s interested in legislation and public work and is considering attending law school after her undergraduate studies are completed.
Oh, she also just happened to finish third place in the 2023 Congressional Art Competition for her painting, “Why Is The Child Crying?”
“When I first made this piece I was doing a lot of reading,” Mitchell-Bonds said.
“I read the book [“Possessing The Secret of Joy” by Alice Walker] and it discusses female genital mutilation which is a practice in Africa. Learning about the trauma that brings to young girls, and how it affects people really inspired me. My painting was about that practice and how we can protect young girls.”
She almost didn’t enter the competition. After one of her friends sent her the competition link she held off awhile before submitting her work. After waiting until the last minute, she put herself in the running.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I think also there was a lot going on with school and I was just overwhelmed with work. I decided to enter finally because the piece I entered was very important to me and it had a different meaning. I wanted that to be seen.”
Mitchell-Bonds said she’s been drawing and painting since elementary school.
“I loved to draw, I loved to paint, I loved any form of art,” she said. “As I got older, I found ways to mature my art as I matured. That's where that history piece and learning piece comes along and it's something I still continue to find joy in.
“Art is more of a hobby, but I also like to integrate what I learn into my art. As I learn more about sociology and African American studies that’s going to heavily influence my art. That’s how I plan to integrate those interests into my artwork.”
Mitchell-Bonds said when it comes to her art it’s very important for her to tap into her culture as a Black woman.
“I love being able to express my history and learn about my ancestors and channel that energy into the art I create,” she said.
Mitchell-Bonds’ work represents Congresswoman Cori Bush’s Missouri 1st Congressional District.
The Congressional Art Competition showcases the artistic and creative works of young artists from across the country.
This year’s theme for Bush’s district was “It’s a STL Life.” It was optional for participants to incorporate the theme into their art. The winner from the 1st district will have their work showcased in the U.S. Capitol for one year. The Washington, D.C. exhibit will also feature artwork from other contest winners worldwide.
The criteria for the artwork was that it had to be at least 26 inches by 26 inches, up to 4 inches in depth and not weigh more than 15 pounds. The work had to be framed and measure no more than the maximum dimensions.
The contest categories include paintings in oil, acrylics and watercolor; drawings that are pastel, colored pencil, charcoal, ink, and markers; two-dimensional collages; prints including lithographs, silkscreen, and block prints; mixed media such as usage of more than two mediums in pencil, ink, watercolor, etc., computer-generated art; and photography.
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