Arthur Roby

Congressman Bobby Rush stands with Kenwood Academy High School graduate Arthur Roby and his parents after a ceremony at Connect Gallery in Harper Court, at which Arthur received the Illinois 1st District 2021 Congressional Art First-place Award for his portrait of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman on Wednesday morning, August 4.

Arthur Roby, a Kenwood Academy graduate and Hyde Park resident, won Rep. Bobby Rush's 1st District Congressional Art Competition for his portrait of Amanda Gorman reading her poem "The Hill We Climb" at President Joe Biden's inauguration.

It will go on display at the United States Capitol, and Roby won a trip to Washington to see it there for himself.

Roby, who will matriculate at Clark Atlanta University this fall and hopes to be an orthodontist, is a portrait painter who works with oils. They are easier for him to stretch; with acrylics, he has to dip his brush every few seconds.

He greatly enjoyed Kenwood's art program, particularly teachers Matthew Milkowski and Elizabeth Osborne.

"Their vision just helped me create more things and open my eyes to be more open-minded to different things," he said.

Roby painted Gorman from video of her reading at the inauguration.

"I just sketched the image that I thought in my head," he said. "I wanted it to look kind of inspirational. It was an ideal image." "Just what's going on in the world, I feel like there needs to be more focus around just putting a lot of Black energy into the world."

He has painted Martin Luther King Jr., the rapper Nipsey Hussle and others; he would like to paint Rush now.

"I mainly try to stay around Black people," he said. "It's who I am."

Rush, who is an ordained pastor, spoke of his admiration for creative energy and the young people whose works "speak to our higher senses of being and our higher selves."

"I understand and I appreciate the power that is in you," he told the six award winners from his congressional district — one from the city and five from the suburbs. "You have been honest with the material that you have been called to create."

Before it heads to Washington, Roby's work is currently on display at the Connect Gallery, 1520 E. Harper Court, along with the work of the the second- and third-place finishers and participation award winners.

"(Art is) not really what I want to pursue, but I will continue it throughout my life," Roby said.

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