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Virginia teen’s painting of migrant children to hang in US Capitol

Rep. Don Beyer/Twitter

An Arlington, Va., teen’s painting depicting migrant children is set to hang in the U.S. Capitol for the next year after winning this year’s Congressional Art Competition. 

The painting, submitted by 17-year-old Dominick Cocozza, depicts two young children with forlorn expressions, one of whom holds a sign reading “Bring our mom back.”

Cocozza said the piece, titled “Immigration,” was a project for his Advanced Placement studio art class at Yorktown, according to local outlet ARLnow.{mosads}

“For this particular piece I was inspired by ‘Immigrant Children’ who have been separated from their families!” Cocozza told the outlet in a message on social media. “I want to illustrate this particular issue to inform my peers of this ongoing crucial conflict,” he added.

“His work expresses feelings many of my constituents share,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents Cocozza’s district, told ARLnow.

“It will make a strong impression on the members of Congress, staff, visitors, and tourists who pass it every day. I congratulate Dominick and Yorktown High School for this accomplishment, and thank the many talented young people whose collective work again made for a very competitive Congressional Art Competition,” Beyer added.

Beyer also praised Cocozza’s work on Twitter, calling his art “very striking.” 

Cocozza told ARLnow that he was adopted from Central America as a baby but said the painting doesn’t represent his experiences.

“I am honored to have my work displayed in the capitol and I hope it can spark understanding to my audience,” he said.

The annual competition requests art from young artists and is judged by local art teachers. 

The 2017 winner of the art contest sparked controversy for depicting a confrontation between black protesters and police officers portrayed as animals.

Capitol authorities permanently removed the painting after authorities determined that the piece violated the House Office Building Commission policies that prohibit artwork with “subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.”

The artist, David Pulphus, was a constituent of Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), whose district includes Ferguson, where nationwide protests erupted in 2014 over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.

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