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Summer Art Gallery

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The U.S. Department of Education is hosting a gallery of prize-winning graphic arts posters by high school seniors that illustrate the theme, "Life is Better with Art in It." The posters on display through July 13 are the winning selections from a national competition sponsored by the Art Institutes, a system of 42 art institutes in North America, and Americans for the Arts, for students pursuing careers in the visual arts.

The selection of posters was first featured at an event on Capitol Hill on June 24 that Christopher Powers, the assistant director of photography for EdWeek, and I attended. Ciara Borchard, 18, who graduated this spring from Granite Hills High School in Apple Valley, Calif., was the grand-prize winner for a literally eye-popping poster of a camera lens embedded within the pupil of an eye. She received $25,000 to help pay for tuition to study graphic design at the Art Institute of California-San Diego.

In accepting her award money, Borchard gave tribute to Mike Smith, a digital graphic-design teacher at her high school. "I can't tell you how many hours I spent in his classroom working," she said, noting how important it is for schools to have arts programs to support students who "think outside the box." Her school offered a robust arts program, she said.

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This year, 900 students participated in the art contest, and the 12 winners received a total of $100,000 in scholarships to pay toward tuition at one of the member art institutes.

I found it to be a nice change of pace in one of my work days to get a sense for the artistic talents of some of the nation's youths. So if you're in the neighborhood of 400 Maryland Ave. SW, you might want to stop by to see the students' posters on display.

Photo credit: Christopher Powers/Education Week

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