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Aptos High School student speaks on honoring her family in Washington D.C.

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION-TV) UPDATE JUNE 21, 2022, at 5:39 p.m.-- An Aptos High School 11th grader that won a national art competition got the chance to see her art displayed in Washington D.C.

Michelle Lopez-Rubio's piece titled "Sacrificing My Father's Hands" won the 20th Congressional Art Competition.

Lopez-Rubio said this started as an assignment for her photography class. The project was to take a picture focusing on texture.

She almost didn't take a picture that day until she saw her father with a handful of strawberries he had picked. There weren't many to pick from, so he didn't take a bag. Her teacher loved the picture and entered it in the art competition.

Michelle Lopez-Rubio's talking about her piece titled "Sacrificing My Father's Hands."

"The picture does show the hard work but not to the full extent," said Lopez-Rubio. "Behind that picture and those hands arent' just messed up from a hard day's work but also unpaid overtime, not even being paid minimum. Having to be unfed for hours and constantly running just trying to make ends meet."

The soft-spoken 11th grader said the experience was a big boost to her confidence. She added that she is interested in pursuing this as a career after high school, primarily focusing on fieldwork. 

Lopez-Rubio even got to meet Congressman Jimmy Panetta during her trip to D.C.

Lopez-Rubio's work is one of 434 pieces selected across the country to be shown in the Capitol for an entire year. She represents the Central Coast and the families who sacrifice their bodies to provide food for their families and the country.

"Michelle's work, the photograph of her father's hands with the strawberries, represents our bounty. Representing our number one industry," said Congressman Panetta. "But also what it takes to have that industry. And the people behind our agriculture, I think, really came through in Michelle's artwork and demonstrated so much. Not just about our economy, but about the people behind the economy and the people of our district on the Central Coast."

Lopez-Rubio said the experience was mindblowing because she didn't think the piece would get as much attention as it did. She thought it would just be another assignment she turned in for school.

The trip to D.C. was a fun experience for her, especially after growing up in a small town. She had the chance to go to a big city where immigrant families wish they could go to but can't because of legal reasons or money.

Lopez-Rubio was happy she was able to go and represent her family and field workers.  

Aptos High School student wins congressional photography competition; art will be displayed at U.U.S.apitol


An Aptos High School student's photograph placed 1st at the 20th Congressional Art Competition "An Artistic Discovery."

Michelle Lopez-Rubio's "Sacrificing My Father's Hands" photo will be displayed at the U.U.S.apitol for an entire year along with other Congressional District winners.

"I was shocked that my photo was even selected for the competition, and after learning I won, I felt honored and grateful," said Lopez-Rubio. "This photo was about bringing light to what field workers have to go through every day. Experiencing it firsthand, it felt very personal to photograph, but I didn't think much of it at the time. I hope that this photo getting so much attention can help improve the conditions of field workers."

In June, she will travel to Washington DC with her sister to be recognized and see her piece exhibited.

"At PVUSD, we recognize the profound influence of arts in education, and we are proud to have opportunities for our students to explore their artistic talent. Congratulations to Michelle Lopez-Rubio for having created such a touching piece that will be enjoyed by the millions of visitors the U.S. Capitol sees annually. It is not only a heartfelt photograph but also a strong representation of our community, and we are proud to celebrate this recognition," stated Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent of Schools at PVUSD.

Two other Aptos High School students submitted entries as well.

Anna Spurlock submitted "From Within," and Autumn Zaretsky submitted "A Dog's Love."

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