The top winner—Best in Show—is recognized at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., and is displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol. The 2019 winner of Best in Show from the Fourth Congressional District was “Family Tree,” by Anna Effenberger, of Colts Neck, a 2019 graduate at the Ranney School. Anna’s work remains on display in the Capitol through May 2020.

Due to the national emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak, Congressman Chris Smith will hold his Annual Congressional High School Art Competition and Exhibition as a virtual show to ensure the safety of students, parents, teachers and the many others who annually see the show at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton’s Lakefront Gallery.

“After consulting with the judges and receiving input from teachers, we have decided the show can go on, and that a virtual show will be the safest way to proceed for the students who have worked hard in preparation of this year’s competition.  It is also safest for the patients, visitors, health care professionals and others working at RWJ-Hamilton, where the show is often held,” Smith said.

Other changes to the 2020 show include online judging, and a cancelation of the annual awards reception in early May.

The show had been scheduled to open on March 30 at the Lake Front Gallery of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton for Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean students who live in the Fourth Congressional District.

Instead of students, parents and teachers dropping off artwork at RWJ-Hospital — which has issued safety protocols to protect patients and visitors from the coronavirus that include prohibiting large gatherings and visitors of high school age — entrants will submit images of their work via email by the extended March 27 deadline. The students’ work will be exhibited in an online gallery on Smith’s House website, where professional artist judges will review the pieces.

“I thank RWJ-Hamilton President Richard Freeman for hosting the show in recent years, and acknowledge his and his staff’s tireless work in the current coronavirus response,” Smith said. “Under the circumstances of the current health emergency, it is clear that a public event with artists and visitors is not in keeping with the social distancing and other health recommendations at this time.”

High school student can submit their recently completed art, or works specifically created just for the competition, that meet the originality, suitability, size and other entry guidelines of the national competition by March 27. Click here for 2020 rules of entry, entry forms, a list of towns in the Fourth District and other important information.

“Students and art teachers have prepared for this show for months,” Smith said. “So our three professional judges, whose talented artwork will also be on display, determined they can pick the winners from the virtual gallery. The best-of-show will go on to be displayed in the Capitol complex in Washington later this year.”

All the artwork entered into the NJ-04 competition this year will be displayed in the online gallery for one year. Winners will be announced in early May.

Every year the Congressional Institute sponsors this national high school visual art competition to recognize and foster artistic talent in each congressional district. Since the competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. Participation in the contest is at the discretion of each Member office. As of now, the Institute plans to accept the top winner of every congressional show in America and will receive winning artwork May 21, and hold a reception in June 25.

The winner’s work will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year along with winning entries from across the U.S. Students who place will receive ribbons and all participants will be mailed Congressional Certificates.

To enter a piece of artwork or for more information, call Smith’s Constituent Service Center at (609) 585-7878. For information about the 2020 NJ-04 show or to view the 2019 and prior year winners visit Rep. Smith’s Congressional Art Competition web page.