Thursday, July 5th, 2007 at 5:45 pm in Uncategorized.
Eighteen-year-old Viral Shah, who graduated in May from Redwood City’s Sequoia High School and is headed to Stanford University this fall, was a valedictorian, student body president, and a member of the San Mateo County Youth Council of the American Cancer Society.
But in case you doubted whether he qualifies as wunderkind, now he’s an award-winning artist too.
Shah was chosen as the 2007 Congressional Arts Competition winner for the congressional district of U.S. Rep Anna Eshoo, D-Atherton. His mixed-media work, African Woman (shown here), was selected by a panel of local artists and will be on display at the U.S. Capitol through June.
Shah said the piece was a product of an International Baccalaureate art class Sequoia, which required students to choose a theme and build on it artistically. His charcoal and acrylic work explores thinking beyond the stereotype of Africa as little more than malaria, poverty and AIDS.
“It was just the idea that something so beautiful, so calm and so confident can come out of something that we stick with being so poor and disease ridden,” Shah said.
The annual competition for high school students was initiated in 1981.
“The Congressional Arts Competition provides a wonderful opportunity for student-artists across the country to gain recognition for their work,” Eshoo said in a statement. “African Woman is a beautiful portrait and an outstanding example of the talent and creativity of the students in the 14th Congressional District.”
Shah and his family recently visited Eshoo at the Capitol and spent the day touring Washington, D.C. and meeting other young artists. He saw his piece hanging in the tunnel that connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol.
“It was really neat seeing my name there,” Shah said. “I never really considered myself a professional artist or anything.”
Works by Shah and the other student finalists in Eshoo’s district are also on display on the Web site of the Palo Alto-based Pacific Art League.
(Ed. note: This post was updated on July 6 to reflect an interview with Shah that the Insider was not able to conduct until the day after the announcement of his win was made.)