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Jesuit High School senior Sophia Gard won with her drawing, 'Learning to Fly,' about a childhood memory with her dad.

COURTESY PHOTO: OFFICE OF CONGRESSWOMAN SUZANNE BONAMICI - Jesuit High School senior Sophia Gard won the 2022 Congressional Art Competition with her drawing, 'Learning to Fly,' based on a photograph of her as a child.Jesuit High School senior Sophia Gard was this year's local winner of the 2022 Congressional Art Competition.

Gard's piece, "Learning to Fly" will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., for one year, along with the art of the winners from each congressional district across the country. The teen from Beaverton will also be flown out to the nation's capital with her mom in the coming weeks for an award ceremony.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici announced the winner for the Congressional Institute's national competition on Thursday, May 12.

"It is so unreal to me," Gard said. "When they told me, I was like, 'No way.'"

She said it still feels surreal, and she can't wait to go see her art in the Capitol.

Gard said she based her drawing on a photo of her as a young child, sitting in one of her dad's planes. Flying planes is a passion of her dad's, Gard said, and she was always to excited to check out the inside of the planes he'd rent — almost as excited as he was to show her.

"He loves taking me up to fly. I don't get motion sick and neither does he — the rest of my family does — but flying has always been really special for the two of us," Gard said.

Now, her dad is working on building his own plane. He even has a YouTube channel going to document the process of building his BD-5, she said, which is "so cool."COURTESY PHOTO: OFFICE OF CONGRESSWOMAN SUZANNE BONAMICI - U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici poses with Sophia Gard, a senior at Jesuit High School who won the 2022 Congressional Art Competition for the district.

Gard said another reason she wanted to use this memory for her drawing — besides her admiration for her dad — is because it's fun, colorful and makes her happy to remember.

"I don't have anything against all of the pandemic pieces and heavier topics," Gard said, "but for me, since these last couple years have been so much — art is time for me to relax and enjoy myself, and I don't want to focus on heavy topics during that one break I get."

It's because of her art teacher at Jesuit that Gard even knew about this competition at all. During her time at the school, Sascha Gordon-Manning — or Ms. Manning, as Gard calls her — has pushed Gard to apply for other competitions and has supported her work. Gard said she'll miss her a ton after she graduates in June.

Gard said she will "absolutely" continue drawing and working on her art after high school. She has a neighbor with a studio and supplies for oil painting, she said, who is going to let Gard visit and use the space this summer.

She'll take a gap year right after graduating, but after that, Gard plans to apply to an art school. She might take some classes at Portland Community College along the way, too.

With more time when she's done with school, Gard said she wants to spend more time trying to promote her art.

She sees other artists her age getting popular on social media posting their art regularly, but she's never had the time. She's started a small Instagram account and she's excited to put more effort into it.

"It's not really a dream of mine for my face to be famous, or like anything to do with me as a person — that is so scary," Gard said. "But I just want to hear what more people think of my art. I think that would be really cool."

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