Thursday, February 29, 2024
Submitted Photo Karlee Wynia and some of her drawings.Submitted Photo The drawing of Mabel, Karlee Wynia’s cow, that will be displayed at the United States Capitol for the next year.

Mantorville senior wins national art competition

Mantorville’s Karlee Wynia called on her hometown roots to win an art competition.

A senior at Kasson-Mantorville High School, Wynia submitted a pencil drawing of her cow, Mabel, to the First District Congressional Art Competition. And she won.

“Karlee’s artwork stood out as a true representation of southern Minnesota, and her excellent artistic ability is evident in her attention to detail in the piece,” said Congressman Brad Finstad. “I look forward to her artwork hung in the halls of Congress and it will be a joy to show ‘Mabel’ to guests and visitors in our nation’s Capitol.”

Wynia’s art teacher thinks she is one of her top five students, ever, in art.

Mabel, said Marilyn Fredrickson, art teacher at K-M High School, is “the most exceptional work I’ve seen so far this school year. I could say she’d be one of my top five students I’ve taught.”

Fredrickson learned of the art competition from her superintendent and principal, and she and Wynia agreed that they’d submit “Mabel” as it represents southeast Minnesota so well.

“Mabel: A Young Herd Leader” is a colored pencil drawing of Wynia’s cow, Mabel, who lived on her grandparents farm and who she named. The cow died, but lives on in Wynia’s artwork.

“Starting on the cow, I knew it was going to take a lot of time to get all of the lines and layering in the hair of the cow,” Wynia said. “I used a lot of different colors to show the variation a cow has in their fur. I used a dark blue, and a purple, and black to make the darker patches.

“I wanted to show that it’s not one color, there is variation and muscle tone. For the lighter parts I used gray and white colored pencil to show more definition.”

Wynia was in her bedroom drawing — as usual — when Finstad called and told her she’d won the art competition. She remembers well receiving a call from a Washington D.C., number.

“I was like, I don’t usually get calls from Washington D.C., and then I thought, this could be for the cow,” she said. “And it was Brad Finstad and he asked ‘Is this Karlee Wynia?’ He said, congrats, you’ve been selected to win the Congressional Art Competition.”

Wynia said she connects with Finstad on their mutual backgrounds with dairy and agriculture.

“The Congressional Art Competition is a great chance to see some of the outstanding artistic talent of our high school students in the First District,” Finstad said. “We had many impressive pieces submitted by students throughout the district, making it difficult to choose a winner.”

Wynia’s artwork will hang in the U.S. Capitol for one year. She will receive two round-trip tickets to Wahsington D.C., to attend the official ceremony later this year honoring the Congressional Art Competition winners from across the country.

“I was shocked,” she said of Finstad’s call that she’d won. “I thought, this is crazy, this is so great. I can’t believe I was picked out of all the different choices he had.”

“I am grateful to all the students who submitted artwork for this year’s Congressional Art Competition,” Finstad remarked. “I am continually impressed by the talent of these students, and I look forward to seeing the incredible artwork they submit next year.”

Though Mabel is now deceased, Wynia loved the cow who lived at her grandparents’ dairy farm near Austin. “I thought, why not do her?” she said. “It connects to southeast Minnesota and ag and dairy cows and stuff like that. I did the project and my teacher asked me about the Congressional Art Competition and how we’re supposed to do stuff that represents this area.

“I thought, this is great because I just did my cow. It was in colored pencil, with lots of patches. The background for the cow reminded me of my grandparents’ farm, which is full of a lot of fields, a corn field and some hay to show what southeast Minnesota represents.”

She submitted her “Mabel” piece on April 24, and heard she’d won on May 9. “I liked it because now it’s a memory I can have of her, and of my childhood too. I spent a lot of time around cows and it’s nice to have that to look back on. It was definitely easier to draw the cow because I’d been around them so much. I knew how to draw their faces and what they looked like.”

Wynia will graduate this spring and will go on to attend South Dakota State University, and intends to major in studio art with a specialization in art education.

She will be an art teacher one day, she said.

“I kind of want to dedicate the piece to my great grandmother,” Wynia said. “She came over from Holland, the Netherlands. She’s here today and it’s her farm the cow came from. She was really into it so I want to make sure she gets it when I get the piece back.”




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