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Cosette Backus ’18 Wins Award in Congressional Art Competition


Artwork created by Cosette Backus ’18 will hang in Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s district office for the next year.

Backus’ piece – an acrylic painting entitled “Biracial Youth” – garnered the most likes and shares in the Facebook Fan Favorite Award portion of the High School Congressional Art Competition for California’s 13th District.

Her work was among 30 CA-13 submissions for the nationwide artistic discovery competition sponsored by the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Elise Cypher ’19 contributed a drawing, “Clarity in Chaos,” for the competition.

Cosette’s brother, Renzo ’20, was the subject for the piece, which was completed for an assignment in her Drawing 1 course, taught by Briana Loewinsohn.

“We were supposed to create a portrait that had contrast between light and shadow,” Cosette explained.

Using varying shades of orange, yellow and blue, Cosette strove to convey a pensive, thoughtful tone in the portrait, which took about four weeks to complete. “My brother is a complex person and difficult to read. On a whim one day he dyed his hair platinum, so I wanted to capture the contrast between his face, his hair, and all the other aspects that make him unique,” she said.

Initially, when the painting was simply a school project, Renzo wasn’t entirely interested, Cosette said. “When I told him I was going to submit it for this contest and it would be seen by many people, he grinned sheepishly and became more excited,” she said.

Prior to entering the contest, Cosette had never considered publically displaying her art.

“I am so proud of Cosette for her work on this project. She pushed herself stylistically to paint in a new way in order to capture the feeling she was going for. It took a lot of initiative to submit her work, which I also admire in her,” Loewinsohn said.

Meanwhile, Cosette says art allows for creative expression in multitude of ways, in all kinds of mediums. “I have a hard time expressing myself in words, so art is an easier form for me to express who I am,” she said. “With art you have so much flexibility in the way you bring things to life.”

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