Nine-year Gabrielle Faisal has much to be proud of already in her young years. The third grader from Detroit rose above 500 other participants to win the White House Historical Association’s National Student Art Competition.
Faisal is the artist behind a photo that recently won the Historical Association’s national student art competition hosted by the White House. It shows a pair of black shackled hands holding the historical white building on the backdrop of an American flag.
The first-place winner’s work of art will be featured in the building’s visitor center through Sept. 22. She also will receive a cash prize of $1,000. Faisal spoke to the outlet about the painting and what it symbolized: the shackled hands and the red stripes representing the fight for freedom from enslavement. “The white stripes represent the purity of the struggle,” she said, adding, “The blue means justice, and the white stars represent unity for all people.”
The little girl told reporters she was inspired by the history lessons her father, Rashid Faisal, taught her. “I have a home library filled with books on African-American history, Blacks who were a part of building The White House, so for her when it came time to do art, it was just organic for her,” the dad told Fox 2.
Faisal’s family said they knew the young creative’s work would at least make the top-10 list, but said they never could’ve imagined her winning in her age bracket, not until they saw the announcement online.
Faisal was among a batch of winners divided by age, telling reporters she was “happy” to have won. “I was really happy.” Her parents are still in awe over their daughter’s achievement.
“When I think about the large hands holding the White House, those hands are, you know, symbolic of our people collectively, our history collectively, and that you have the background with the flag. And that’s the unifying factor for all of us as Americans, that Black history is not just for African-American people, is for all people,” Rashid said.
The participants’ work was judged on its originality, interpretation and historical relevancy. A panel of professionals was responsible for evaluating their work, including renowned portrait artist Simmie Knox.