Congressional Art Competition

Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.

Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol. The winning artwork is also featured on’s Congressional Art Competition page.


The following is a summary of the Congressional Art Competition rules:

  • The competition is open to high school students. 7th and 8th grade students who attend a 7-12th grade school are eligible to apply.
  • Students should enter the competition in the district they reside, not where they attend school.
  • Teachers and/or students should verify their eligibility with the office of the Member of Congress.
  • Artwork must be the creation of a single student. Students may not collaborate on an entry.
  • Artwork must be two-dimensional.
    • Each framed artwork can be no larger than 26 inches high, 26 inches wide, and 4 inches deep. If your artwork is selected as the winning piece, it must arrive in Washington, DC, framed. Even when framed, it must still measure no larger than the above maximum dimensions. No framed piece should weigh more than 15 pounds.
    • Accepted mediums for the two-dimensional artwork are as follows:
      • Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.
      • Drawings: colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels, charcoal (it is recommended that charcoal and pastel drawings be fixed).
      • Collages: must be two dimensional. • Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints.
      • Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc.
      • Computer-generated art.
      • Photographs.
  • Each entry must be original in concept, design, and execution and may not violate U.S. copyright laws. Any entry that has been copied from an existing photo or image (including a painting, graphic, or advertisement) that was created by someone other than the student is a violation of the competition rules and will not be accepted. Work entered must be in the original medium (that is, not a scanned reproduction of a painting, drawing, etc.).

Suitability Guidelines

Artwork must adhere to the policy of the House Office Building Commission (the Commission). In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy, or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. Each Member of Congress will be required to submit a Letter of Support confirming that the Member has determined that the winning artwork adheres to the Commission’s policy. However, if another Member of Congress requests review of any artwork for compliance with the Commission’s policy, the final decision regarding the artwork’s suitability for display will be made by the Commission. While it is not the intent to censor any artwork, we do wish to avoid artwork that is potentially inappropriate for display in this highly travelled area leading to the Capitol.

Student Information and Release Form

Each entrant must submit a Student Information and Release Form. The information requested on the first page of the form should be provided as thoroughly as possible. Students should include their mailing addresses if they differ from their home addresses. Students should also include contact information that will be valid for several years. The form requires a description of the artwork, which should be detailed, clearly identifying the major elements of the work.

For example, “self-portrait” or “a picture of two people” would be unacceptable, since many artworks would fit those descriptions. The following is an example of a useful description: “A painting of two people; the person on the left wears a green sweater and khaki pants; the person on the right wears a black shirt and a striped skirt. A dog sits at their feet.”

The second page of the Student Information and Release Form contains a legal release and a certification that the artwork is original in design and execution. The student, an art teacher, and a parent or guardian must sign where appropriate. Entries without signed originality certifications and artwork releases may not be accepted.

A TYPED copy of the Student Information and Release Form, signed by the teacher, a parent or guardian, and the student, must be securely attached to the back of the artwork to certify the originality of the piece. Please retain a copy for your records.

To apply, please send a completed TYPED Student Release Form and a PDF photograph of your artwork to

Deadline to apply is April 30, 2024.

Participants will be contacted via email with the results of the competition by May 10, 2024.