RED WING — Red Wing High School senior Carolyn Hanson has enjoyed creating art for as long as she can remember. Now, one of her pieces is traveling around the country with Sister Cities International’s annual show.

Sister Cities International, an organization founded by President Dwight Eisenhower, works to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation -- one individual, one community at a time.”

Every year, the organization chooses a theme and then takes submissions from artists and authors in school who create a piece based on the topic. Winning and finalist pieces are compiled into an exhibit that travels throughout the U.S. In 2019 the theme for the young artists and authors contest was “Global citizens: resilient communities.”

Hanson, along with her fellow art students, responded to the prompt.

“Right away I kind of came up with a phoenix…” Hanson told the Republican Eagle. “I went on from there and then I depicted a phoenix hugging the earth, which is also kind of to symbolize the embracement that humanity has and humanity’s resilience, too.”

Red Wing High School senior Carolyn Hanson's drawing depicting a phoenix hugging the globe was selected as a finalist of Sister Cities International's young artists and authors showcase. Photo provided by Kristin Bray.
Red Wing High School senior Carolyn Hanson's drawing depicting a phoenix hugging the globe was selected as a finalist of Sister Cities International's young artists and authors showcase. Photo provided by Kristin Bray.

In her artist statement for the drawing, Hanson expanded on the idea of the phoenix, writing:

“These mystical and majestic birds are known for their ability to rebound and persevere through all obstacles; even death. Just as the phoenix perseveres through death itself, the people in our world continuously show their ability to bounce back.”

Bray includes the annual Sister Cities theme into her curriculum. She explained:

“The International Sister Cities organization does the international young artist, young authors competition. So, we do the young artist part every year and then we have a local contest, so (the local Sister Cities Commission members) come in and pick a local winner and then that moves onto the next level. That’s where Carolyn’s made it to, to the national finalists.”

When it was announced that Hanson was a finalist, the Red Wing Sister Cities Commission asked to honor Hanson and her piece. Hanson was given a bouquet of flowers and a certificate of achievement.

The drawing is about 1 foot by 2-feet and done in colored pencils. It took Hanson about two weeks to complete, mostly in class but she also brought it home to work on.

“I’m a very slow worker,” explained Hanson with a smile.

“She’s a perfectionist, is a good way,” Bray chimed in.

As Hanson works her way through Advanced Placement art, her final art class in high school, she is not sure what life after graduation will look like, but she knows that art will play some part in it.

“I don’t know if I’m going to do art in college or not, it’s probably going to end up being a hobby that I just keep continuing to do,” she explained.