ArtEffect: Visual Arts Competition

The Unsung Heroes ARTEFFECT Competition invites submissions from all middle and high school students interested in making a positive impact through their art.

First awarded in 2016, hundreds of students have participated in ARTEFFECT in the U.S. and around the globe. The Competition is focused on creatively interpreting the story of an Unsung Hero from history in a visual artwork. The untold stories of Unsung Heroes are uncovered through in-depth research and project-based learning facilitated by the Lowell Milken Center’s Discovery Award Competition. The judging panel will give the most consideration to entries that celebrate the Unsung Hero’s contribution in a high-quality artwork that is visually compelling and original in concept.

Students may interpret the Unsung Hero’s story in myriad ways including— but not limited to—a narrative sequence or story, portraiture, symbols and abstraction, a landscape.  Multiple mediums are accepted for submission including 2-D and 3-D visual artworks in painting, drawing, mixed media, digital, and sculpture.

Students will also submit a written “Impact Statement” to accompany their artwork. This essay discusses the Unsung Hero’s unique contribution, the student’s creative process and interpretation, and how the student intends to share their artwork within their own community.

Like this poster? Click it to download and print for your classroom!

Top Prizes

Grand Prize—$6,000

Spotlight Prize—$1,000

High School (9-12th grade)

  • Best in Show– $3,000
  • Second Place–$2,000

Middle School (6-8th grade)

  • Best in Show–$2,000
  • Second Place–$1,000

The Spotlight Prize

ARTEFFECT is happy to announce this new opportunity for artists! Funded and sponsored by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the Spotlight Prize encourages artists to create work based on the lives and stories of Unsung Heroes who have been underrepresented in the competition’s recent years. The Spotlight heroes for the 2023-2024 competition are: Eugene CaldwellAutherine Lucy FosterGuy GabaldonElizabeth Jennings GrahamCecilia Payne-GaposchkinChester Nez, and Adam Shoemaker. Submissions celebrating these heroes are eligible for all prizes.

Additional prizes and honorable mentions may be awarded at the discretion of the judging panel. Winning artworks will be given full consideration for display in Unsung Heroes ARTEFFECT exhibitions.

For Educators: ARTEFFECT Lesson Plan, Rubric and New Online Professional Development Sessions

Interested in getting your students and school involved? ARTEFFECT offers an opportunity for students to engage in interdisciplinary lessons that meets multiple parts of the National Arts Standards. The project can be scaled up or down based according to your grade level and classroom interests. 

Teachers who sponsor prize-winning students in the competition will be recognized in ARTEFFECT announcements alongside the name of your student and school, and receive a gift card for art supplies. 

Review the Lesson Plan and the Judging Criteria Rubric to help guide your students to their best creations!





Lesson Plans by Online Session
Nov. 15th – Character and Values
Dec. 13th – Storytelling Through Art
Jan. 24th – Unsung Heroes and STEAM
Feb. 21st – Remembering the Holocaust

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