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LWV opens civic dialogue through 'eARTh Art'

This story was originally published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

The League of Women Voters of Pullman is encouraging conversations about politics between children and their families through art.

The league held its second Visual Arts Competition, and received more than three times as many submissions this year. The theme was “eARTh Art,” asking kids in Whitman County to artistically show how civics and the natural world are connected. Winners of the competition have already been announced, and the league will hold an awards ceremony at the Neill Public Library at 2 p.m. today.

Carolyn Joswig-Jones, league member, said the competition began because of a book. Last year, the league had extra copies of the 2020 League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund textbook, “The State We’re In: Washington” and didn’t want them to go to waste. During one of their meetings, Joswig-Jones had an idea to use them in an art contest.

Joswig-Jones wanted to add an educational aspect to the art competition, and thought what better way than sourcing from the book. Each year the league will pick a topic from a chapter and use quotes from the material to prompt children’s art. She added kids have the opportunity to read the whole chapter, and discuss what they learned with family.

“I think the biggest part of our program is education,” said Joswig-Jones. “It’s an opportunity for families to sit down with their children and talk about (civics).”

Aly Welch, league member, said the competition is an opportunity for children to be involved in the community.

“When they’re at school, kids are going to be talking about their art to each other and also talking with their families,” said Welch. “And, talking about their art they’re going to be talking about the prompt too. It’s pretty cool to see how many students decide to give it a try.”

Students between grades 3 to 12 are encouraged to participate in the competition. Joswig-Jones said two art pieces from each grade grouping are selected to be winners. Six submissions are picked, and each winner receives $50 to spend at local businesses and a copy of the book. She added all submissions are displayed at the Neill Public Library.

The league received 40 submissions this year, 28 from students within Pullman and 12 from other students around Whitman County. This is easily more than the 12 submissions the league received last year. Joswig-Jones said she and the league were excited to receive art from around Whitman County, and hopes next year they receive more.

“The League of Women Voters of Pullman is really for Pullman and Whitman County, but we just don’t have that in our name because it originally started in Pullman,” said Joswig-Jones. “We do reach all of the county and we want the county to know that we’re here for them. Everybody, not just in Pullman.”

Winners of this year’s competition were third-grader William, fourth-grader Kaitlin, sixth-grader Winnie, sixth-grader Eshaan Syed, ninth-grader Anekah Mcbride and 11th-grader Lydia Park. Last names of some winners could not be provided, as some parents didn’t want their children to be fully identified.

During today’s event, refreshments will be provided as the league and community celebrate winners and all students who participated. And the league will release a surprise announcement at the event.

All artwork will be on display at the library for the next few weeks.