Students Shine at Congressional Art Competition

Christian Calma and Saskia Hunter were recognized in the prestigious Art Competition.


courtesy Shannon Freeman

Senior Christian Calma poses with Del. Wexton with his award winning piece.

On May 6th two Dominion students were given awards for their photography at the 10th District Congressional Art Competition as junior Saskia Hunter placed second in the Photography category and senior Christian Calma received a Best in Show: Honorable Mention in the overall judging. In addition to his prize, Calma’s photo will be displayed in Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton’s office for the remainder of 2019.

Calma’s piece, titled “Isibinello”, was taken during his trip to South Africa earlier this year with a Nikon D750 with a 24-120 f/4 lens. “When we went to visit a high school in an impoverished area as part of our itinerary, I got the opportunity to sit in on one of the classes and then captured this shot of one of the students,” Calma said. “This shot is definitely one of my personal favorites because it has a story-like feel to it.”

The award was a surprise to the future USC Trojan. “When I went to the show on Tuesday, I was stunned by all of the great artwork there,” Calma said. “So, to have the judges select my piece to be second place overall in the show was surprising.”

Having his piece hanging in Congresswoman Wexton’s office was also an extremely gratifying experience for Calma. “It definitely is an honor to have one of my pieces of artwork in her office,” he said. “I really hope that I can get the chance to visit her office and see my photo hanging in there.”

“Christian is always trying new things so it’s really great that he achieved such a high award and was recognized because he’s always being innovative and creative with his artwork,” art teacher Shannon Freeman said. “He’s really developed his own personal style and it’s nice that they recognized it.”

Saskia Hunter placed second for her piece titled “Lost in Books” which depicted a girl sitting in a bookshop. “My photograph explores the idea of taking refuge from the world; places that allow people to destress and recover from everyday life,” Hunter said. “For me, I love reading in small nooks, so I decided to display that with my sister as my model in a small bookshop in Reston.”

The award was a vindication of sorts for the junior. “I’m very honored to have my work selected for second place in the Nonfigurative Photography section. Knowing that my work is appreciated and like is a great boost and motivation to continue to make art,” Hunter said.

“She’s one of the few juniors in a senior class and she’s worked really hard. I’m happy it worked out for her,” Freeman said.

Both have been students of Freeman for a while, Calma for three and Saskia for two, and credited her for a lot of their rise. “Ms. Freeman has been one of the few guiding lights throughout my high school career. I first had her sophomore year and have had her every year since. She’s seen my highs and lows as both a student and an artist,” Calma said. “Though the recognition for my work is nice, I believe that my relationship with Ms. Freeman has allowed me to value my own artistic voice more than any accolade. She has truly played a pivotal role in my journey as a photographer and artist.”

Hunter shared a similar view of Freeman. “I had Mrs. Freeman for photography last year, and she encouraged me to take AP photography,” she said. “I wouldn’t have taken it this year if it hadn’t been for her confidence in me. Throughout the entire year she has offered me advice on my pieces, helping me to develop me work.”