Puls wins 2020 Congressional Art Competition for Oklahoma District 1
Cherokee Nation citizen Liam Puls’ photo features his younger and older brother. He said it depicts his younger brother looking up and “dreaming” of serving and his older brother as “looking” to the next generation of leaders. COURTESY
TULSA – After receiving a phone call from U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern, Cherokee Nation citizen Liam Puls was “thrilled” to learn that he won the 2020 Congressional Art Competition for high school students in Oklahoma’s First District.
The 17-year-old’s photo is titled “Serve to Inspire” and will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year. The photo features his older brother, who attends West Point, and his younger brother.
“It was over being a patriot to the country and I thought, ‘hey, my brother’s home and he has his West Point cadet uniform.’ He came back for spring break and I thought it was a perfect shot,” he said. “My little brother was to have the cap and look up as if he was dreaming of serving and then have my older brother stand behind him as if he’s looking down to the next generation of leaders.”
After some time, Puls said he landed on the “best” photo that led him to winning.
“We took quite a bit of pictures because we could not stop laughing because my little brother cannot stand still without laughing,” he said. “So we spent a long time looking through photos of silly faces and then we had that picture and that was the best one.”
When Puls received a phone call from Hern informing him of his win, he said he was “shocked.”
“I get a call from Congressman Hern saying that he wanted to congratulate me over my winning. I didn’t know about it so I was shocked,” he said. “I’m dancing around the room but I’m still talking very politely. I didn’t want to scream in his ear.”
The next step of the competition was for Puls to travel to Washington, D.C., in July and compete against all district winners but because of COVID-19 it was postponed.
“I’m a little disappointed that it got pushed back but I’m really excited because I want to talk to people and see what their view on art (is),” he said. “I’m a little new to it so I just want to build experience.”
Puls said he started exploring photography while changing schools and eventually attending the Oklahoma School of Innovation and Experiential Learning in Bixby.
“When I got into photography I was changing schools from Riverfield (Country Day School) in the Tulsa area to homeschooling and then to a new school (OSIEL), which I got introduced to a new form of photography/art,” he said.
According to house.gov, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. The competition, which began in 1982, occurs each spring and has had more than 650,000 high school students participate.