St. Louis student’s artwork wins contest to replace controversial Ferguson painting

ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) - St. Louis is once again earning some bragging rights as it sends a high school student's winning artwork to the nation's capitol. This one will replace another local artist's painting that stirred plenty of controversy last year.

According to Santia Maderios, the 16-year-old first place winner of the annual "An Artistic Discovery" contest, her painting could stir up another controversy, but that depends on who is viewing her work.

"I really wanted to address an issue with beauty standards and how people are forced to change in order to fit them," Maderios said of her painting.

Maderios beat 18 other local young artists who entered the contest. Their work was on display at the St. Louis Museum of Art, Friday.

Maderios' work will replace last year's painting in the capitol which also hailed from St. Louis but stirred up some controversy due to content that many said was graphic in nature with police depicted as animals. That painting was taken down.

Congressman Lacy Clay (D)-MO who is a sponsor of the annual contest said, that particular piece of art which he chose as the winner and all other art work, submitted to the contest is the artist's First Amendment right.

"They need a voice," said Clay, "and they need someone to stand with them and tell them, 'Hey if you do the right thing if you showcase your talent then it's ok you should not be silenced.' "

Maderios added that she doesn't think her painting is controversial but adds that if it ignites that type of conversation, then she wouldn't mind.

"Oh well," she said. "Through all my school years, people have been bullied for their hair, how they look how they dress, because it's not a certain way or it doesn't fit certain standards. Without having to use my words, I wanted people to know that not everyone wants to do that."

Some other winners told FOX 2 that say their art whether it's political or controversial, collectively sends one main message.

"I think art is supposed to express whatever you are feeling," said third place winner Grace Ray, "I don't think it's a crime, it is supposed to get reaction."

Clay said that last year's controversial painting is in one of his offices.

He said that court proceedings are under way, meaning there is a lawsuit against the architect of the capitol who removed that painting.