Curie in the Capitol: a scientific take on art and honor Bradford’s portrayal of Curie earns local, national recognition
Kelly McKewin- Hannah Bradford, senior, won this year’s Congressional Art Competition for the 10th district with her work, “The Scientist,” which is featured to the left. The work will be featured in the Capitol building in Washington D.C. for the next year as well.
Bradford originally created the piece for her AP Studio Art portfolio but submitted it to the Congressional Competition at art teacher Rebeccah Silver’s recommendation.
“As soon as I saw the original photo that she was about to manipulate, I knew it was going to be a captivating piece. It was completely Hannah’s idea and creation, and I love the way the test tube interacts with her eye,” Ms. Silver said.
According to Bradford, she was trying to portray Marie Curie, the early 20th century physicist and chemist who conducted notable research on radioactivity. “The Scientist” fits in with the theme of all of Bradford’s AP Studio Art works, which focus on historical women who lack recognition for their contributions in the world.
“I chose to do a theme where I choose women in history that are very inspiring, but they didn’t really get the recognition that they deserve. For Marie Curie, she won two Nobel Prizes, but no one really knows who she is. I’m hoping people will start thinking about stuff like that. Women did these amazing things and they should get that recognition. The reason why I used myself as the model is because I like to see myself in these women. I can do these amazing things like them,” Bradford said.
Bradford’s work, in addition to being featured in the U.S. Capitol for the next year, will be entered into the National Congressional Art Competition. Bradford will also attend a reception in Washington D.C. at the end of June, which she says she will attend with her mother.
Bradford is still in shock at the results of the competition.
“Honestly I’m just so amazed. It’s so surreal right now. I still can’t believe it. I think when (my work is in D.C.), it will finally hit me,” Bradford said. “An artist is never fully satisfied with their work, even if they win something.”
Meghan Aguayo, senior, has worked with Bradford in AP Studio Art. She thinks Bradford’s accomplishment in winning the competition with a science-themed piece of art highlights a unique aspect of WHS.
“Especially since we are a STEM focused school, it’s nice to show that we can also succeed in the fine arts a lot. (Bradford) likes to blur that line between things. It also represents the teachers really well. Ms. Silver is a really good teacher, and (Bradford’s win) represents her well,” Aguayo said.
Most of Bradford’s works are cyanotypes, in which she takes a photo, often of herself, exposes it to UV light and then draws or paints over it. Some of her other favorite pieces from her portfolio include a portrayal of Jane Goodall, in which she painted over half of her face to look like a chimpanzee, and a piece portraying Rosalind Franklin holding up a photo of DNA structure while being overshadowed by a male symbol, since Franklin never received recognition for her discovery of DNA, while two men were awarded the Nobel Prize it.
While Bradford will be pursuing science rather than art in college, Ms. Silver believes that Bradford’s interest and dedication to the arts will help her as she continues on with her education.
“Art makes the human brain flexible to creative thinking. Hannah wants to be a scientist. Scientists often need to think creatively and come up with multiple solutions. I know that Hannah has developed skills in her art classes that are going to help her with her other lifelong pursuits,” Ms. Silver said.
Bradford cites much of her artistic success both in the Congressional competition and in general to the people in her life that have encouraged her to continue working on and improving her art.
“I think without Ms. Silver I would not have done this at all. She’s an amazing teacher and she really does push me. I love her support. I also want to thank my family as well, especially my older brother, for pushing me to do art. He was originally the artist of the family and he was the one who helped me with some of my ideas,” Bradford said.