Cypress Bay Student Wins Congressional Art Competition

Naomi Lopez is a gifted photographer with an eye for imagery. Her piece, Breathing Ashes, won first place in the Congressional Art Competition and is now hanging in the hallway outside the U.S. Capitol. While this would be an amazing accomplishment for any student, it’s particularly meaningful to Lopez who was partially blind in one eye just a couple of years ago.

Naomi had Acanthamoeba Keratitis in her left cornea for two years. The rare parasite left her partially blind, until her cornea transplant in March. She says art helped get her through this difficult time.

“I turned to photography to express myself and distract myself from the rest of the world,” explains Naomi. “I love capturing the world in an image and telling stories that people might not want to hear but are glad to see. Seeing my work come to life before my eyes is the best feeling in the world and brings me so much joy that I become speechless just thinking about it.”

The Cypress Bay Class of 2018 graduate says it was an honor to have been chosen as one of the Congressional Art Competition winners. She traveled to Washington DC for the awards ceremony. “It felt really surreal to see my work in such a busy hallway, but also kind of awesome because a bunch of people are gonna be seeing it on their way into the Capitol.”

Naomi says her winning piece, Breathing Ashes, is particularly meaningful to her. “It’s basically just a close-up image of my mouth and fingers covered in soot. It’s very detailed and it kind of looks like a person is taking their last breath. It represents the deep, steadying breath that you take after you have just overcome a great obstacle. When I made this piece, I was in the last stages of a long struggle with Acanthamoeba Keratitis, so, to me, the piece is a reminder that there is an end to every hardship, even those that seem endless.”

Cypress Bay Art Teacher Elizabeth Jenkins says she is proud of her student for this great accomplishment. “Naomi has always been a hardworking student who pushes above and beyond to test her creative limits. The photo she submitted is truly an expression of her originality coupled with her talent.”

Naomi will be attending Florida International University this fall, and then transferring to Florida State in the spring. She plans to major in Graphic Design and minor in Marketing.

Two other Cypress Bay students, Corina Dorrego and Paola Diaz, placed in the top 15 overall in the Congressional Art Competition. The competition included 14 high schools and 234 entries.