May 23—EAST JORDAN — When she was younger, Madelyn Reece would study the koi fish at the zoo for hours.
So when Reece's art teacher at East Jordan High School asked the senior if she was interested in entering the Congressional Art Competition, it was a no brainer what the subject would be.
Reece created a painting with two koi fish using watercolor pencil in two days — a work of art that will now be seen by politicians and congressional staff on their way to work.
Reece's painting "Night and Day" won Best In Show for Michigan's first congressional district — which includes most of the northwest Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula. Rep. Jack Bergman announced the winners May 19.
"They're just beautiful spiritual animals and I love drawing them," Reece said of the koi fish. "I've drawn them for the last five years."
Reece said she was most proud of how the colors blended.
"Watercolor pencil is really hard to kind of blend together, and I didn't use any water or anything," she said. "I was very proud of myself for blending all these colors."
At first Reece said she didn't think it was that good. She knew she wanted to enter the competition, but she wasn't sure she was going to the koi fish painting as her entry. The entry deadline was quickly approaching.
A few tweaks later Reece knew she had something special.
"I wanted to do it, but I didn't really have much time because as a senior I'm quite busy," Reece said. "I did it I think three days before the due date. I was very proud of what I got when I was finished."
Reece said she was totally shocked when she got the call from one of Bergman's staff members informing her that she won.
"I actually had to double make sure because I thought it was false, but it was true, and I was happy as can be," Reece said.
Bergman congratulated Reece in a press statement.
"The talent and initiative displayed in this annual competition serves as a reminder of the creativity and bright future of all of our students," Bergman said. "The past year has been incredibly challenging for our students, and I'm proud of their continuous effort and grit as they have faced these obstacles head-on."
"Night and Day" will be framed, matted and put on display in the Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol. That's the hallway congressmen and women walk through daily to reach the House floor.
Reece plans to attend North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and pursue a major in either equestrian studies or zoology.
Last year Hannah Brewster, a high schooler in Munising, won first place for her painting "Battleship Row."
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