Boulder High School senior Emily Steele won the 2nd Congressional Art Competition on Saturday and will have her piece displayed at the U.S. Capitol Building for a year.

Steele’s winning artwork is a self-portrait of her younger self reading a book in a library. She used gouache, a painting technique, on parchment to create it.

Steele said she wanted to capture the one thing that connected her to her Slavic heritage, which is the folktales she used to read when she was a kid. In the painting, the characters come alive off the pages as they did in her imagination.

“It connects me back to my ancestry,” Steele said.

The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide high school art competition held every spring.

It began in 1982 as a way to encourage and appreciate young artists and has had more than 650,000 high school students participate.

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo. and a Lafayette resident, hosted the art competition for Colorado’s 2nd District.

Steele said she’s entered the Congressional Art Competition since the beginning of her high school experience but had never won.

“This year, to finally get that recognition was really, really, really exciting for me,” Steele said. “And there was a lot of really good work there this year, so I was very impressed by my peers’ work, and I was really honored to be chosen out of those.”

Steele said her work is a “lighthearted piece.” She said it emanates a sense of innocent wonderment she hopes members of Congress feel when they see it.

“It’s really cool to think that people who are writing the policy in this country are going to be seeing my art,” Steele said.

“I really hope that congressmen and policy-makers will feel that emotion coming off of it as well and bring some joy to their day.”

To view more of Steele’s art, visit