A Rye Country Day student has won the grand prize in the 8th annual ARTEFFECT competition, an international competition challenges students to creatively interpret the stories of Unsung Heroes through original works of art accompanied by artist impact statements. The competition is run by the The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC) of Fort Scott, Kansas, an affiliated organization of the Milken Family Foundation.
LMC awarded the $6,000 Grand Prize to Celine Fong, an 11th grader at Rye Country Day School. Fong’s oil painting A Beacon of Hope depicts the story of Unsung Hero Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat who saved thousands during World War II by secretly issuing passports in Nazi-occupied France. He was also the sole Iranian diplomat who remained in Paris during the occupation, where he convinced the Germans to exempt Jugutis—a term for the descendants of Persian Jews who continued to practice Judaism—from Nazi anti-Jewish measures.
“As a 21st century student and artist, I believe in the deep investigation of personal narratives to gain insight about change-making role models and engage with powerful stories that can refocus our evolving world,” Fong wrote in her impact statement. “In reaffirming the unacknowledged heroes from the past, we have the power to amplify their contributions, preserve their memories, and better comprehend our collective history to engender a well-informed future.”
“The works of art submitted by our ARTEFFECT winners show their visionary thinking and the superior nature of their creative skills,” said LMC Chief Executive Officer Norm Conard. “Our team at the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes lauds the vivid imagination of these student champions and the excellence of their work.”
In addition to taking home cash prizes, winners have their artworks and excerpts from their impact statements showcased on LMC’s website, listed along with their sponsoring teacher. Additionally, the award-winning artworks are displayed in LMC’s Hall of Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, a museum and research center visited by thousands annually from across the globe.
The ARTEFFECT judging panel consisted of LMC’s executive leadership as well as visual arts experts at the Skirball Cultural Center, CalArts, Museum of Ventura County, and ArtCenter College of Design.