Congressman Adam Smith

Representing the 9th District of Washington

Art Competition

Photo: 9th District 2016 Congressional Art Competition Winner, "Green Arrow" by Tuesday Smith of Garfield High School

Following Censorship of Student Artist, Congressman Adam Smith will not Participate in the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. Instead, Smith to Host His Own Competition in October 2017

Dear Friends,

After careful deliberation, I have decided not participate in the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. Earlier this year, Republican members of the House repeatedly removed an award-winning painting from its display in the Capitol Building claiming that the young artist’s work was offensive and inappropriate. The painting portrayed a conflict with law enforcement following the death of Michael Brown. Instead of defending the student’s right to artistic expression and free speech, the competition’s organizers removed the painting, and enforced a rule banning art that “depicts contemporary political controversy, or of a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.”

It is for this reason that I am unwilling to participate. Artistic expression is essential to a healthy democracy. Art has the unique capacity to inspire resistance, protest, and hope. It starts conversations; it exposes contradictions, and abuses. It touches people in a deep and affecting way. In the United States, the First Amendment protects artists and ensures that no one has a monopoly on truth. I am taking a stand in defense of art. I will not participate in the Congressional Art Competition, I will fight any efforts to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, and I will host my own art competition which encourages artistic expression.

I hope to participate in the Congressional Art Competition in the future, if rules are reviewed. In the meantime, I would like to apologize to any disappointed young artists. I encourage you all to keep creating, and to participate in my office’s competition in October 2017. If you are interested in participating, please email

Thank you to all the teachers and families who have joined us for the Congressional Art Competition in the past. If my office can ever be of assistance to you in the future, please contact my District Office at (425) 793-5810.