A colored pencil drawing called Essential Cowboy by Kunyang Li, a 2021 graduate of Spring Branch ISD’s Memorial High School, was created in tribute to the essential workers who kept America moving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the drawing is headed to Washington D.C. to hang in the Capitol building.
Li drew from a photo he took in the summer of 2020 of a truck driver in a grocery store parking lot when preparing to create an Advanced Placement Drawing portfolio comprised of artwork focused on the working class.
“He caught my eye because he had a cowboy hat and plaid shirt on...he looked like a cowboy,” Li said in a description of his work. “Instead of a horse, his ride was his truck (‘on a steel horse I ride’). He truly represented an Essential Cowboy. I am grateful for these men and women who kept our country rolling during our darkest days.”
Essential Cowboy was chosen by Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher as the 2021 winner of the Texas’ Seventh Congressional District’s Congressional Art Competition. Li’s artwork will hang in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. along with art from other students across the country. Li’s entry in the 2020 competition also was among the top 10 finalists.
“His thoughtful piece reflects not only his skill but also the values of our community,” Fletcher said in a press release announcing the competition winner. “I thank him and all of the students who submitted their artwork in this competition, demonstrating talent and community engagement that represents our community well.”
Seven of the 10 finalists for the 2021 Seventh Congressional District competition also were from the Memorial High School visual arts program in Spring Branch ISD.
“I cannot express how excited I am for this amazing young man,” Memorial High School art teacher Elisa Barry said. “Kunyang’s grit, perseverance and dedication to his craft are just a few of the traits that make him one of the best art students I have ever taught.”
Li also expressed appreciation for Barry. “I would never be where I am without her support.”
This fall, Li will attend Texas A&M University to study engineering. He plans to keep creating art as a relaxing pastime!
Congratulations, Li. We are #SBISDProud of you.