President Joe Biden is Wilmington, Delaware’s most famous resident, so his fellow Wilmingtonians greeted his 2020 election with great joy. Alexis Kupchik, the 2021 Congressional Art Competition winner for Delaware’s At-Large Congressional District, witnessed the fanfare as a crowd gathered to watch his victory speech on November 7, 2020. She documented the event with her photograph Flag at Night.
Alexis called it a “huge historical moment,” inspiring her to take the photograph.
In Flag at Night, an American flag peeks out behind a tree and floats above a crowd of people. A screen appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the photograph, but it’s blurred and behind a metal fence, so the viewer can’t distinguish who or what is on screen. People in the crowd hold up mobile phones to take pictures and record the scene. In addition to the light from the phones and the big screen, streetlamps illuminate the sky, which fades from a deep navy blue at the top of the photograph to a lighter shade as it meets the crowd at the bottom. The streetlamps wash the flag in light, making the white and red pop out against the dark blue sky.
Though Alexis took Flag at Night at a crowd celebrating President Biden’s victory, it’s almost impossible to tell why the crowd had gathered or for whom. By contrast, some Congressional Art Competition artworks feature a specific historical figure, such as President Barack Obama or Abraham Lincoln. With Flag at Night, that’s not the case, which reflects Alexis’ goal for her artwork.
“I’m trying to convey that anyone can contribute to positive change for our country,” she said.
Her artwork’s content and message reflect her other long-held interests, which include politics and government. Alexis said this made her winning the Congressional Art Competition especially meaningful.
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.
“Knowing that something I made is actually going to be in the Capitol is absolutely incredible and a dream come true,” she said.
Winning the art competition is a great achievement for Alexis, and she recognizes her debt to others along the way. “My family and friends inspire me a lot in my creative process,” Alexis said.
In fact, one close friend inspired Alexis by giving her what she says is the best advice for creating art: “Art is always better if you’re passionate about it.”
Alexis can get much inspiration from family and friends since she enjoys spending time with them. Outside of creating art, she also likes playing sports (especially basketball and softball). Another pastime is watching movies (the 2019 remake of Little Women is her favorite). “My favorite artists are directors like Steven Spielberg,” she said.
Alexis has two dogs, a golden doodle (Izzy) and a Scottish terrier (Loki). Bagels are her favorite food. The thumbs-up emoji describes her the best.
Alexis currently attends the Charter School of Wilmington, but in the future, she’d like to work for the government or in the legal profession. “Which probably means I’ll have to go to more school,” she said.
But whenever Alexis is done with school and working for the government or in law, no doubt she’ll make a positive contribution to the country.
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.