Press Releases

2019 ArtEffect Project Winners Announced by Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes

April 15, 2019

FORT SCOTT, Kan., (April 15, 2019) – In its fourth annual ArtEffect Project competition, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC) has awarded five students with cash prizes totaling $15,500 for their artwork lauding individuals who have made a significant impact in history.

The $6,000 grand prize was awarded to 12th grader America Garcia of Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Georgia for her interpretation of Hiawatha’s story. Hiawatha was a Native American chief who eased tensions between five Iroquois tribes and united them as one. Garcia’s piece, “Hiawatha, the Leader We Need,” was painted with acrylics and portrays Hiawatha with a turtle in hand before an illuminated moon. This marks the second time that Garcia’s teacher, Mike Lasseter, has had a student from his class win an award in the ArtEffect Project competition.“Hiawatha is a fervent example of the potential humanity has to come together—yet, it feels as though we are doing the opposite. We are surrounded by war and tension all while this hostility could be combated through the willingness of one another to compromise and communicate,” wrote Garcia in her artist statement.

The ArtEffect Project gives students across the globe the opportunity to share their creative interpretations of unsung heroes throughout history, compels them to think critically about storytelling, and encourages them to share their work with their community in the hopes of making a positive impact.

“In applying their own unique artistic capabilities to interpret unsung heroes’ accomplishments, students develop a more personal connection to the history they learn about,” said LMC Executive Director Norm Conard. “We’re incredibly proud to present this competition and recognize and award the winning students for their compelling artwork.”

In addition to taking home a cash prize, Garcia will have her artwork, alongside other winning students’ artwork, displayed virtually on LMC’s website and physically in LMC’s Hall of Unsung Heroes, a state-of-the-art museum and exhibition space in Fort Scott, Kansas.  

In Honolulu, Hawaii, Dakota Gavin was gifted $3,000 for the Senior Division’s Best in Show prize. The 12th grader at Hawaii Baptist Academy honored Cher Ami, a homing pigeon used by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War I, in his piece “Glorifica.” In the digitally painted piece, Gavin illustrated Cher Ami flying above Major Charles White Whittlesey and the men who followed him into battle.

The Senior Division’s $2,500 Second Place prize was given to 10th grader Julia Bhuiyan of Plymouth High School in Canton, Michigan. In her piece, “Crossing the Limits,” Bhuiyan created a paper collage with watercolor and acrylic paints to visually tell the story of Rosli Naf, a nurse who saved several Jewish children during the Holocaust. Bhuiyan used newspaper cutouts of articles about the Holocaust, the Red Cross, women’s rights, and children as a base to form the portrait of Naf.

Meze Ivit, a 7th grader at Hallie Wells Middle School in Clarksburg, Maryland, won the Junior Division’s $2,500 Best in Show prize for her artwork “Claudette Colvin–an Unsung Hero.” Claudette Colvin is a woman who refused to give up her seat during a time of segregation. Through the use of oil and acrylic paint and a photo, Ivit presented a photo of Colvin in a bus and overlaying text with words of empowerment.

A homeschooled 8th grader, Alana Zunikoff, from Reisterstown, Maryland received the Junior Division’s $1,500 Second Place prize. Zunikoff’s piece “From Labor To Liberty” was formed with a paper collage and pencil and pays tribute to Florence Kelley, a social reformer who pushed for labor laws and improved working conditions for the underprivileged. The collage shows Kelley standing between dejected women and children for whom she advocated.

The five winning students were selected out of hundreds of middle and high school students who participated in the international creative visual arts competition. The judging panel consisted of LMC’s executive leadership, distinguished professionals in the art history, design, and museum education fields, and representatives from the Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Art Center College of Design.

Learn more about the ArtEffect Project here. Submissions for the next competition will open on September 15, 2019.




About LMC

The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes was established in 2007 and has been committed to transforming classrooms and communities through student-driven projects that discover Unsung Heroes from history and teach the power of one to create positive change. To date, LMC has reached over 1 million students and more than 10,000 schools both across America and globally.

Learn more about LMC and the ArtEffect Project here.

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Media Contact: Sarah Haufrect, Director of Communications, 1(310)570-4896,