Youth Statewide Art Contest Theme Allows More Flexibility This Year

Jan 25, 2021

Pandemic living has inspired the theme for an annual statewide art contest.

The student contest is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  

Heather Nice is the library and museum's education director. She said the theme “Art Surrounds Us” encompasses how some people are using art as a relief during COVID-19.

“And I look at my friends and their kids,” she said. “And you know it's families participating in art together, you know, going with their sketchbooks to a park and drawing because they can't go around their friends.” 

The contest will be a little different this year. Nice advised that students can express themselves however they like. 

“And so, before this, students actually had to include different themes of artistic expression within the works,” she explained. “But we decided to pull that for this year and really focus on letting students take the theme and run with it.” 

Nice said another difference is that the works will be put up on the presidential library’s website.

A winner and three runners-up from each category will have their works displayed at the presidential library.

Judging will take place for four different grade levels. Submissions are accepted through Feb. 12. Winners will be announced during Illinois Arts Education Week, which is Mar. 15 through the 19th. More details can be found at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum's website.  

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at