PANAMA CITY, FL – Congressman Neal Dunn (FL-02) has announced Kaitlyn McCarty of North Bay Haven Charter Academy as the winner of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for the Second Congressional District of Florida. Kaitlyn’s artwork, titled “The Calm After The Storm,” is a watercolor portrait depicting a half-sunken sailboat off the coast of Panama City, left behind after the devastation of Hurricane Michael. The slow sway of palm fronds surrounding the scene represent that everything is calm at last.
“This year, we had an exceptional selection of entries from young artists throughout Florida’s Second Congressional District. As many know, Hurricane Michael caused a great deal of devastation throughout our district. Kaitlyn’s painting not only reflects the destruction but also gives a sense of hope. This piece is a reminder to all of us that we can overcome whatever disaster comes our way, and that’s the perfect message following this pandemic,” said Dr. Dunn. “I look forward to seeing Kaitlyn’s artwork hanging in the Capitol for visitors from across the country to see. Thank you to all our participants for your inspiring contributions, and to our judges for helping us choose the winners.”
This year, Congressman Dunn’s office received over 30 submissions from across the district and the competition was judged by local art professionals. Second place was awarded to Anna Barber of Marianna High School, for her painting titled “Stunning. Refreshing…Essential.” Tied for 3rd place was Jake Wooley of Suwannee High School with his sketch titled “Quiet Reverie” and Elizabeth Baggett of Marianna High School with her piece titled “The Joseph W. Russ House.”
“I was so excited when I received the call from Congressman Neal Dunn, and I am extremely honored to have been given the chance to represent our district. After the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael in 2018, my family was displaced from our home. Every day on my drive to school at North Bay Haven, I saw a half-sunken sailboat beached offshore of the Hathaway Bridge. It was left behind after the storm and was a reminder to me of an event which changed the lives of everyone in my community,” said Winner Kaitlyn McCarty. “After completing this piece and seeing how my community has attempted to rebuild after Michael, I see the sailboat as a symbol of the strength and perseverance displayed by the people of Panama City. I would especially like to thank my amazing teacher, Mrs. Robideau, for instilling in me a passion for art and helping me along every step in my artistic journey.”
“Kaitlyn winning the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for District 2 is one of my proudest moments as an art teacher! Kaitlyn’s first art class with me was in the 9th grade where she definitely showed promise as a talented artist. The tremendous growth in her skill set from then and now as a senior, is a product of her hard work and dedication working through the process,” said Bay Haven Charter Academy Art Teacher Kimberly Robideau. “I am thrilled to say that her winning piece, ‘The Calm After the Storm’, was strictly created on her own from start to finish, without any help or guidance from me. Nothing can be more rewarding as an art teacher then the moment when your student reaches success on their own after years of working together. I’m simply over the moon for Kaitlyn - this achievement is well deserved!”
The United States House of Representatives sponsors this competition each spring to recognize and honor talented young artists from each congressional district across the country. The winning piece will be hung in the United States Capitol building along with other artwork from across the country. The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 and since then more than 650,000 young artists have been involved.