Erin Fesler, a freshman at Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida, has been selected as the first place winner of the 2012 Republican National Convention’s “Elephants on Parade” art competition.
The competition was open to middle and high school students throughout the Tampa Bay area. Participants were asked to submit a project that answered the question: “What does being an American mean to me?”
Fesler painted “Perseverance, Innovation, Sacrifice, Liberty, Unity and Strength” using oil paints on canvas. She says each element of the work – which incorporates an American bald eagle, a Native American, the Statue of Liberty, a NASA spacecraft, the United States Capitol building, an American flag and Arlington National Cemetery – represents a unique facet of our country’s identity. As part of her prize, the painting will be displayed in the main convention venue, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, during convention week.
“I started painting about two years ago and I am interested in politics. I am taking an American Government class and it’s teaching me a lot about the political system and how it all works,” Fesler explained. “[The convention] is just amazing; it’s such an honor to be here. It just furthers my understanding of everything I am learning.
Fesler, along with four other finalists, will have the opportunity to tour the Times Forum and the Tampa Convention Center, where an expected 15,000 credentialed media will be based for the convention.
“I commend Erin on her artistic accomplishment in this contest, as well as her desire to learn about the American government system,” said convention CEO William Harris. “This great country will succeed on the shoulders of the next generation, including Erin and her peers.”