Press Releases

INLET BEACH, FL – Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (Florida-02) announces Stella Bagby of the Ohana Institute as the 2023 Congressional Art Competition winner for the Second Congressional District of Florida. Stella’s “Florida Beauty Aura” artwork is a colorful portrait of a young girl surrounded by items that represent Florida.

“We had an outstanding selection of entries from young artists throughout Florida’s Second Congressional District this year. The 2023 winning piece vibrantly encapsulates what Florida has to offer,” said Congressman Dunn. “I look forward to seeing Stella’s artwork hanging in the Capitol. She did a beautiful job on this piece, and I know visitors from across the country will enjoy the portrait, too. Thank you to all our participants for your incredible contributions and our judges for choosing this year’s winners.”

Congressman Dunn’s office received nearly 30 submissions from across the district, and local art professionals judged the competition. Elizabeth Baggett of Marianna High School won second place for her pastel piece titled “The Sweet Flora and Faces of Northwest Florida.” Kendall Sampson of Leon High School won third place with her graphite sketch “Hypochondriac.

“I was very surprised when I found out my art won this award. My teachers called me out during lunch and said I had a phone call from our congressman. He was very nice and congratulated me. I was so in shock; I think I didn’t even realize what was happening,” said 2023 Winner Stella Bagby. “I moved to Florida in 2015 from Tennessee. Before that, I would come for a few weeks a year to my grandad’s house in Florida. It was my favorite place. When we were given the subject to create what makes this area so special, I just put a little bit of everything I loved on paper. I have been involved with volunteering for beach cleanups, turtle protection, and beach ambassador. Florida is so fun to live in, but there is also work to make sure everything is taken care of. I hope my art means some of that.”

Stella continued: “I’m really excited to go to Washington D.C. to see my art in the Capitol. My family is going to go, too. I am excited to meet Congressman Dunn and to see all the things in Washington because I have never been there before. I am grateful for winning this award. Thank you, Congressman Dunn.”

“Stella is imaginative and delightful, a dedicated artist! Stella is an inquisitive learner who enjoys analyzing situations and making new discoveries as she works. She is self-motivated and works thoughtfully as she is deliberate in her execution of her concepts. I love how her ideas come to life through her artwork.,” says The Ohana Institute’s Dr. Vivian Moreira Komando. “Stella works very hard and is focused as she creates. Her ideas are well-developed before she begins a project. Stella is an important part of our art class atmosphere with her wonderful attitude and her helpfulness to her peers. I love seeing Stella work in the art studio. I am most proud of her accomplishments this year with her artwork, most of all, the tremendous honor of winning the District 2 Congressional Art Competition and having her work displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year!”

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.