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Published: Wednesday, 5/16/2007

County high school art to enliven congressional corridor

Rebekah Smeltzer's artwork, 'Adrien,' won first place in the Congressional compettion. Rebekah Smeltzer's artwork, 'Adrien,' won first place in the Congressional compettion.

Congressmen and women will soon catch glimpses of a Monroe County high school senior's creative musings on their walks to and from the U.S. Capitol.

Rebekah Smeltzer of Jefferson High School won first place in the 15th District Congressional Arts Competition.

Her work will be displayed in the corridor connecting the U.S. Capitol to the Cannon House Office Building until June, 2008.

Rebekah, 17, and her parents will be flown to Washington next month for the exhibition's opening ceremony.

The corridor also will display the other winning entries from congressional districts across the nation.

Her piece is a woodcut of a landscape she observed while at running camp in South Dakota.

She had tried to get into Jefferson High School's art classes since her freshman year, but because of conflicts with her schedule and the low number of art classes offered, she took her first class last year.

"So I'm still exploring all the different areas," she said. "I think I'll probably be majoring in something dealing with art [in college], but I have no idea what yet."

She plans to attend Michigan State University this fall.

Erin Greener of Summerfield High School in Petersburg took second place, and Michelle Johnson, also a Summerfield High senior, finished third.

Artwork by Michelle and Erin will be displayed in U.S. Rep. John Dingell's Washington office.

Erin, 18, did a colored-pencil piece that she calls a "phantasmic still life."

"It's a still life that came out of my head," she said. "There were no rules that I had to follow."

She plans on attending the College for Creative Studies in Detroit this fall.

And she said she has no second thoughts about going to art school because of "all the many, many times teachers told me to stop drawing and pay attention."

Michelle, 17, said her own piece is "just something totally different that I wanted to try."

It is collage self-portrait, made from pieces of magazines.

"It's a really big honor that people from the Congress are interested in high schoolers' art projects," she said.

"I thought that was really cool."

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