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Photographer earns third in congressional art contest

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Malaika Bigirindavyi honored for Black History Month photo

Used with written permission from Martha Ortman

Used with written permission from Martha Ortman

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Junior Malaika Bigirindavyi said she felt surprised when her photo recently received recognition in the Keith Ellison 5th district congressional art show.

“I know that (Martha) Ortman entered me into this contest and it’s the congressional art contest and I got third place. I know that a lot of schools enter different works of art and I got third place out of all the contestants,” Bigirindavyi said. “I didn’t even plan to enter at all but I’m glad I won something.”

According to Ellison’s website, the High School Congressional art competition is an event held every year in the spring time to celebrate and recognize artistic talent. One is sponsored by each member of the U.S. House of Representatives and each district’s winner has their art displayed in the U.S. Capitol.

According to photography teacher Martha Ortman, students compete every year.

“Every year the congressional districts that choose to participate have an art competition, a composition competition and an artistic visual arts part of it,” Ortman said.

Ortman said the artists who place in the top three each get their works of art featured.

“ The winners’ (art) from each district go to somewhere to Washington, D.C. in some hallway where everybody walks through,” Ortman said. “Second place in each district hangs in that representative’s office in D.C. Third place hangs in his office in whatever state they’re in. He lives in Minnesota so her photo will be hanging in his office location in Minneapolis.”

Bigirindavyi said the photo was of senior Manegbe Eben following her performance at the school’s Black History Month performance.  

“It was a photo of Eben at the end of her poem (reading) for the Black History Month performance,” Bigirindavyi said. “(She) was reading a poem by Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise.”

Eben said her performance meant a lot to her and she did it in order to honor Angelou.

“I’m black and I take pride in the history and I wish it was everyday instead of just one,” Eben said.“I love Maya Angelou’s poems and it was also recognition for her because she died maybe a year or two ago. So it’s kind of a remembrance for her too because she was an amazing black woman.”

Eben said she likes the photo because it reflects well on her intentions and motivations.

“(The photo) perfectly conveys what I was trying to do,” Eben said. “I raised my fist up for I rise so it’s a reminder for all of us black students to rise and to keep fighting.”

Ortman said she chose to send Bigirindavyi’s photo along with many others due to how impressive they are.

“Sometimes when I’m looking through kids photos, if I go ‘Woah!’ then I put it in a folder. So then when it’s time to submit for an art show I look through (the folder),” Ortman said.

Ortman said she plans for further promotion of the photo throughout the school.

“We’re going to make it into a poster, and (add) her artist statement that accompanied it. It’s going to look really cool. We’re going to frame it and put it up in the school because it’s a provoking thoughtful image and the words increase the message,” Ortman said.

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Photographer earns third in congressional art contest