St. Cloud student to have artwork displayed at U.S. Capitol

U.S. Congressman Darren Soto, right, holds the painting “The Mocking Blossom” created by St. Cloud High School student Raynaliz Velazquez, left.

One of Osceola County’s high school students will have her artwork on display at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Raynaliz Velazquez, from St. Cloud High School, was chosen as the District 9 winner for the nationwide high school visual art competition sponsored by the Congressional Institute.

Velazquez, who graduated in May, created “the Mocking Blossom” and is a representation of the mocking bird and orange blossom – the state’s bird and flower. Her art is so much more than just a canvas.

“I wanted to branch out. I used cut outs of leaves and glued in the pieces. It’s not just a flat surface,” Velazquez said.

Her art teacher, Joela Dagum Lowe, said, “She executed it well and parts of it uses cardboard and paper. It stood out because of the different elements that’s reflective of Florida. We discussed what is pertinent to Florida and did some research. She deserves the recognition.”

Velazquez, who moved to Osceola County two years ago, was also awarded the Golden Brush award from the city.

“I wasn’t expecting to win,” Velazquez says humbly. “My teacher said to think outside the box. My teacher inspired me and helped me.”

Velazquez was recently presented with a Congressional Certificate from Congressman Darren Soto. Her art will be on display along with all of the first-place winners from around the country.

“It will be in the tunnel that everyone has to go through,” says Oriana Pina, communications director for Soto. “It is an annual open call from every district in the country and you can submit (your artwork) to your Congressional office. It’s a way to recognize the talent and young artists in the district and get them more involved with their Congressman and district,” Pina says. “It’s nice to see the different creativity that brings everyone together.”

The panel of judges included Soto, his office staff and Osceola County Sheriff Russell Gibson. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. District 9 received 43 submissions from local high schools.

Velazquez was inspired by her mother, who is also an artist, and works with jewelry and bamboo. By middle school, Velazquez was more interested in art and began winning some contests.

She was even awarded a full scholarship to the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota. But she has decided to stay closer to home. She plans to major in anthropology with a possible minor in art.

This year’s first runner up from Osceola County School for the Arts is Fabiola Moro-Velez with his piece called “Saturation.”