in Sixth Annual Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest
WASHINGTON (October 26, 2006) — Claire Kitzmiller, a senior at St. Cecilia Academy in Nashville, Tenn., is the winner of the grand prize in the 2005-2006 Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Multi-Media Youth Arts contest. CCHD is the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Ms. Kitzmiller submitted a computer-altered digital photograph of a homeless man, entitled, "Help Is OnThe Way." It is inscribed with a paragraph that describes education as the first step in understanding poverty and helping those in need. "Poverty cannot be solved with money or donations," it reads. "No one will take action until they understand the plight of others."
Ms. Kitzmiller's project began as an assignment for a Visual Arts class at St. Cecilia Academy, taught by Barbara Gronefeld. "I knew I wanted to do a photo," said Ms. Kitzmiller, "and I decided to try to capture a side of poverty that is not always seen." She spent two afternoons shooting photographs in downtown Nashville and found that the people she met were eager to participate in the project and willing to talk about their lives. It was her first experience with poverty and homelessness.
"I realized that philanthropy helps," Ms. Kitzmiller said, "but educating people who lack sympathy or knowledge of homelessness and poverty is the key to giving these people, our neighbors in life, a new beginning and a chance to recover."
Bill Sinclair, the CCHD director for the Diocese of Nashville, said, "The contest enabled each participant to explore the truth about the root causes of poverty and Claire did an outstanding job of portraying her understanding through her work. We are extremely proud of her accomplishment."
Mr. Sinclair said that the contest attracted so many entries that CCHD staff was able to organize a public art show at one of the participating schools. "Our bishop here in Nashville, Bishop David Choby, met the student artists and their families and lent his whole-hearted support to the project," he said.
Claire will be honored as the grand prize winner on Dec. 1 at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in Las Vegas, Nev. Claire will split the $1,000 cash grand prize for the contest with a local Nashville group which also receives CCHD funds to break the cycle of poverty.
MacKenzie Cherban, from Villa Maria Academy in Erie, Pa., in the Diocese of Erie, won second prize for a mosaic-decorated mirror, inscribed with the message, "This person can help stop poverty." She will receive $375, with an equal amount to be donated to a CCHD-funded organization.
Third place was awarded to Ashley Garcia, who attends Queen of Heaven school in Albuquerque, N.M, in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Her visual arts entry was a print that depicts a girl split into two: one side represents a life of poverty and the other envisions a life of plenty. She will receive $250 in cash, with an equal donation to the CCHD-funded organization of her choice.
The Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest was developed by CCHD to reach out to youth and encourage them to work in a creative way on projects that explore the issues of poverty and injustice in the United States. It is open to students in grades seven through 12 in Catholic parishes and schools. This year, students were asked to develop the theme, "Unlock Opportunities. End Poverty" through visual arts, audio-visual means or literature. Original works were submitted to diocesan-level competitions. Local winners were forwarded to Washington for final judging by a panel of professionals.
Announcing the winners, Timothy F. Collins, CCHD executive director, said, "It is encouraging to see how many students are able to use new and traditional media to creatively express their growing understanding of the reality of poverty in their own communities.
Moreover, they are committed to exploring compassionate solutions to what they find while researching the subject of their art."
Mr. Collins added, "Sometimes we need the unvarnished perspective of students to remind us how unjust it is that one in eight people in our country live in poverty. CCHD is working every day to help the poor empower themselves and help the non-poor to expand opportunities for those with such limited access to them."
Honorable mentions will be presented to Josh Crump and Mike Boudreau, graduates of Fr. Lopez Catholic High School, Orlando, Florida, in the Diocese of Orlando (visual arts); Tim Mack, St. Raymond School, Mount Prospect, Illinois, in the Archdiocese of Chicago (literature); Alexandra Trevino, Monroe Catholic High School, Fairbanks, Alaska, in the diocese of Fairbanks (audio); Lydia Zibelman, Villa Maria Academy, Erie, Pennsylvania, in the Diocese of Erie (visual arts) and Rachel DeOrnellis, Amber Dudenhoeffer and Lesley Wesley, St. Mary School, Frankenstein, Missouri, in the Diocese of Jefferson City (visual arts). Rachel DeOrnellis is the sister of one of the grand prize winners in the 2003-2004 Multi-Media Youth Arts contest, Megan DeOrnellis.
The theme for CCHD's 2006-07 Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest is "This is Life in Poverty in the U.S.A." Catholic young people in grades 7-12 are invited to submit entries. Contest materials are available on the internet: http://www.usccb.org/cchd/contestmaterials.shtml
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the domestic anti-poverty and social justice program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. With the support of Catholic parishioners, it has provided grants to more than 4,000 community and economic development projects over the past 37 years. The annual CCHD collection is taken up in most Catholic parishes in the United States on the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year the national collection date is November 18-19.
Editors: A jpg file of the winning entry is available by contacting Barbara Stephenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mike Poulin (email@example.com) at CCHD. Additional information about the contest and other CCHD initiatives for Catholic youth and young adults is available at the CCHD website http://www.usccb.org/cchd/youth.shtml or by calling Mike Poulin at (202) 541-3297.