On the Rocks by Alexa Bonacci

Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, and Nina García are some of the best-known alumni of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

Some day you can add to their ranks Alexa Bonacci, the winner of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for the First Congressional District of New York.

As a student at FIT, a college within the State University of New York, she’s on her way to becoming a professional artist, and she sees the Congressional Art Competition as an important step along that path.

When she found out she had won the Congressional Art Competition, she said, “It really seemed unreal, and like my career as an artist was finally beginning.”

Alexa says she “freaked out.” She smiled for a week straight.

She may never have had that week’s worth of smiles if not for her father and for her art teacher from Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station, New York. She credits them with inspiring her to create her winning artwork for the Congressional Art Competition.

“I was hesitant at first, but they convinced me to compete and helped me realize my potential,” Alexa said.

In addition to her father and art teacher, her fellow students have been important to her growth as an artist. “My peers inspire me to no end,” she says.

Alexa Bonacci, winner of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for NY-01
Alexa Bonacci, winner of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for the First Congressional District of New York (Photo courtesy of Alexa Bonacci)

“Ever since I’ve started college, I’ve met so many incredible people that make me want to be both a better person and artist.”

Another person who inspires her is the New York-based artist Janet Fish, who is known for still life paintings depicting everyday objects that you might have on hand at home, like fruit or glassware. Her artworks feature intricate details and patterns, bold colors and complex depictions of light and shadows.

“Her attention to detail and ability to portray color in her composition never ceases to amaze me,” Alexa says.

Without a doubt, Alexa has shown her own attention to detail On the Rocks, her winning creation for the Congressional Art Competition. As the name suggests, she depicts a drink being pour over ice cubes. From the top of the piece, a black background shades to a blue gray and then disappears behind a clear glass filled with ice cubes as the liquid is poured in. The drink splashes upward and then bends back toward the center of the glass as it hits the ice. Her use of color and the fine details make it seem like someone is pouring a drink in front of you. It looks real enough to sip.

With the honor that On the Rocks has brought her, Alexa is looking forward to a career in the arts. She says she doesn’t have something specific in mind yet, but she’s interested in medical illustration, a field that requires the detail and realism she’s demonstrated she’s capable of.

Since Alexa’s shown how talented she is, she’s also got advice for aspiring artists.

“Make art that’s bad, then just move on,” she says.

That’s the best advice she ever got. She’s found that art might seem “bad” when you first create it, but they aren’t. Instead, artists learn from them. “Bad” art is, in fact, good practice.

“Everything you make contributes to your success,” she says.

Congratulations, Alexa! May everything you make contribute to your success!

If you’d like to follow along with Alexa’s development as an artist, she updates her website, Alexa’s Art Box, and her Instagram feed.

First held in 1982, the Congressional Art Competition is a bipartisan initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives to support the artistic talents of high school students. Every Member of the House may hold an art competition for high school students in their districts. The winning artworks are displayed for a year in an exhibit in the Cannon Tunnel, which connects the House of Representatives office buildings to the U.S. Capitol. Members of Congress, congressional staff, and thousands upon thousands of visitors view the exhibit each year as they pass between the buildings. Students who would like more information about how to enter should contact their U.S. Representative. Contact information is available at House.gov.

The Congressional Institute has sponsored the Congressional Art Competition since 2009. The Congressional Institute is a not-for-profit organization that helps Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helps constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature. It publishes The Sausage Factory blog, Surviving Inside Congress, and the U.S. House of Representatives Floor Procedures Manual.

To sign up for updates about the Congressional Art Competition, click here.