Atherton High junior Raquel Masterson wins 2016 Congressional Ar - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Atherton High junior Raquel Masterson wins 2016 Congressional Art Award

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Raquel Masterson's artwork, entitled "Fly Aways" (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) Raquel Masterson's artwork, entitled "Fly Aways" (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)
Raquel Masterson with her parents, teacher and Rep. John Yarmuth on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) Raquel Masterson with her parents, teacher and Rep. John Yarmuth on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A junior from Atherton High School was honored in a surprise ceremony Tuesday when U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth announced that her artwork will soon be hanging in the nation's Capitol.

Raquel Masterson, 16, was named the winner in Yarmuth's 10th annual Congressional Art Competition. Her piece, "Fly Aways" will be displayed in the Capitol's Artistic Discovery corridor for a year. The winning artwork was selected by a panel of judges from the local arts community.

"Hundreds of thousands of visitors will pass through the Capitol and see this piece of artwork over the next year," Yarmuth said. "It's such a wonderful honor and recognition. The work is sensational and I love honoring the talents of your young people."

During the ceremony, held during a school-wide assembly in the auditorium, Masterson also received two round-trip flights to Washington DC to attend the unveiling, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

At first, Yarmuth read off the names of other Atherton students who participated in the competition -- and Masterson's name wasn't called.

"I kept thinking, 'I know I participated in this,'" she told reporters. "And then he said it was a process of elimination and my heart started beating really fast. I had no idea! My family knew, my teacher knew and I was completely surprised."

Masterson said she worked on her art piece for a few weeks back in the fall under the direction of her art teacher, Rachel Gibbs.

She says her favorite medium is Prismacolor pencils and drawing self-portraits -- which is exactly what her winning artwork shows. It's a self-portrait with parrots in her hair.

"The assignment was to just draw something in your hair and I decided to do parrots because I thought  -- I made it surreal, that made it kind of fun because I had to imagine that," said Masterson, who has been interested in art since elementary school and has been entering competitions since third grade.

Yarmuth, a 1965 alumni of Atherton, said he was thrilled to be back in Louisville and to see his alma mater. 

"I owe a lot of who I am to this school right here," Yarmuth said. "These were some of the best years of my life."

Throughout the past nine years, Louisville's young artists have submitted hundreds of pieces for the annual competition, which recognizes the artistic talents of high-school students in Kentucky's 3rd District.

The contest is part of a nationwide high-school visual art competition designed to encourage young artists in each congressional district.

Yarmuth said the panel of judges received 112 entries from 11 high schools in his district this year.

As for Masterson, the trip to Washington in May will be he first trip to the nation's Capitol -- and the first time she has ever been on an airplane.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I had a lot of support from everybody and I am so thankful for that."

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2016 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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