Olivia Moon is a junior at William S. Hart High School — and her artwork is headed to the U.S. Capitol.
Moon was named the winner of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for California’s 25th District. She was awarded first place by a panel of five independent judges for her self-portrait “Muted: Broken System,” a 14-inch by 17-inch oil painting, which she said she painted in approximately 15 days.
“The piece itself is supposed to represent minority voices and how stifled and covered up a lot of minority stories have been throughout history, especially in America,” said Moon.
The message resonated with Moon and her art teacher Youjin Shin, who are both Asian American.
“Being Asian American, speaking up about racism can be kind of difficult because I feel like Asian Americans are the ‘model minority.’ We’re supposed to stay quiet and do what we’re told and just live quietly,” Moon said. “And so, this piece was really about showing that Asian Americans should be able to speak up for themselves without having other people speak up for them.”
Moon’s self-portrait features herself against a background containing a mixture of green shades. She also painted with one hand over her lips and the other hand open and pointed at the viewer.
“When you speak, but no words come out like in a dream, you’re confused as to where your voice has gone,” she said of the effect she sought to achieve through those hand gestures.
Moon said the variety of green colors represents broken systems and media.
“A lot of people can say whatever they want because they’re behind a screen,” she said.
Moon’s painting will be displayed in the halls of Congress for the public and members of Congress to see.
“It felt so unreal to me when I got the call,” she recalled. “It was such an honor to me because I never thought like that it would make it that far.”
Now that her painting is headed to Washington, D.C., Moon hopes the leaders who see it will learn a lesson.
“I wish for them to see it and feel a sense of hope,” Moon said. “And understand that younger generations, they’re learning and they’re becoming more aware of the world.”
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, announced that Moon had been selected as the winner on May 11.
“I want to congratulate Olivia on this great achievement,” said Garcia. “Olivia’s impressive oil painting will now be seen by members of Congress and visitors from across the country and world when they come to visit the U.S. Capitol. Olivia should be very proud of this accomplishment.”
Second place went to Yeajin Yoo, a junior at Valencia High School, for her watercolor and oil portrait of a painting entitled, “Look at Yourself.”
Meggie Mosser, a senior at Valencia’s Trinity Classical Academy, was awarded third place for her scratchboard work of a deer eating leaves entitled, “Eyes of Innocent.”
“The Congressional Art Competition is a great opportunity for young Californians interested in art and I am grateful to all of the students who participated this year,” said Garcia, thanking everyone who participated in the competition.