Butterflies traditionally represent transformation, change, hope and life. So the transformation of Amy Baber from a fairly reserved, 5’3” teen wearing what she describes as “grandma clothes” into an electric guitar playing beast must be a wonder to see and enjoy.

“I completely change my persona once I get on stage,” Amy said. 

Ripping out sick guitar solos isn’t Amy’s only creative outlet. She delves into photography, creative writing, and hopes to continue her education at an atelier school where she will hone her drawing skills.

Amy has an excellent achievement to add to her application: winner of the Congressional Art Competition for the 4th District of Kansas. Her artwork, a painting titled Jade, was displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year. 

Members of Congress host individual art competitions in their districts each year for high school students. The artwork of the first-place winner hangs in the Cannon Tunnel, one of the most well-traveled paths from the U.S. House into the Capitol building. Each year, hundreds of thousands of tourists and distinguished visitors plus Members, staff, media, and others marvel at the artistic achievement of the country’s youth. 

The competition is sponsored by the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit organization that helps Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helps their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature.

Amy’s best friend modeled for the portrait that hung in Capitol, although Amy said the two were just getting to know each other when she began creating it. 

“I’ve always admired her beauty and personality,” Amy said. “We’re now best friends and see each other as sisters. I view this painting as the start of our close friendship.”

Amy’s favorite artists are Caravaggio, Roberto Ferri, and Dante Rossetti, and she draws inspiration from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Pre-Raphaelite art movements. She also finds inspiration in a more modern source – her oil painting teacher, Ernest Wood III.

“His work is immaculate and every day, I strive to become an artist like him,” Amy said. 

There’s a subtle, but important distinction in her comment. She strives to be an artist as he is.

“Never try to be like someone else,” Amy said. “People go to your art because it’s unique to you. Always create what’s true to yourself.”

When she’s not creating art or jamming out, Amy enjoys horror movies – The Shining is a personal favorite – and music with a political bent to it, including the Armenian-American heavy metal band, System of a Down. She loves Grimm’s Fairy Tales and says the stories are iconic and exciting with every read. It’s not a surprise to learn that Amy is drawn to books with beautiful illustrations. 

Although her portrait skills have landed her in the U.S. Capitol, being a traditional artist may not be her career path. Admirers of her work may one day appreciate her work on the big screen as Amy has an interest in filmmaking, either writing or directing.

It’s all part of artistic transformation.

“I like to view [the butterfly] as a representation that I will soon become the best version of myself, with enough hard work and dedication,” Amy said.