Daniel Rivera with his winning work, Tears of Miss Justice.

AIE and NAEA Winner Announced

In an impressive achievement, Daniel Rivera, a senior at Berlin High School in Berlin, will be collecting his diploma at graduation next week, marking the second major honor he has received recently. Rivera’s painting, titled “Tears of Miss Justice: Mourning a Broken System,” won the Best in Show award in the annual Democracy Collection Student Art Competition. This prestigious competition is sponsored by the National Art Education Association and the Art in Embassies program of the U.S. State Department. Berlin High art teacher Samantha Colbert, under whose guidance the painting was created, received an email notifying the school of Rivera’s victory. However, the announcement has yet to be posted online.

As part of the prize, Rivera and Colbert will travel to Washington in September to attend the Art Activations for Democracy event held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Furthermore, Rivera’s painting will become a permanent part of the Smithsonian’s Art in Embassies collection, offering it the possibility of being displayed in American embassies worldwide.

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“Tears of Miss Justice” is an acrylic-on-canvas work that took approximately five months to create. The painting depicts a blindfolded woman who embodies Lady Justice, a symbol of judicial systems since ancient Roman times. The monochrome image features a splash of blue over the woman’s left eye, from which tears flow, while her right eye and tears are portrayed in red. Rivera deliberately used these colors and their placement to signify his commentary on the current political divide in the country.

Colbert shared that at the beginning of her Intermediate Studio Class, she presents broad general themes to inspire students, but the subject matter is ultimately up to each student’s interpretation. Rivera received assistance from English teacher Mikaela Marbot in crafting the title of the painting and his artist statement.

Regarding the creation of “Tears of Miss Justice,” Rivera stated in his artist statement, “She represents the way I see many of us blind to the truth of how our two-party system causes pain and fights amongst citizens of America. The parties fight, argue, and pit the people against each other.”

Rivera, a dedicated student, served as the president of the National Honor Society at Berlin High School for two years and actively participated in multiple clubs. In the fall, he will be attending Siena College in Loudonville, although his field of study is yet to be determined. Colbert mentioned that Rivera is considering pursuing a career in art or education.

Colbert, who recognizes Rivera’s leadership qualities, envisions him as a future educator, perhaps even returning to his alma mater as an art teacher. “I would love that,” she expressed.

AuthorVigor Times