WEST SPRINGFIELD — While the biggest spotlight was on President Joe Biden during his inauguration, a West Springfield teenager’s artwork also shone brightly in Washington, D.C., last week.
Eduardo Miranda, 17, was one of 34 teen artists who had their work projected nightly, Jan. 15-19, on the facade of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, just steps from the inauguration stage at the U.S. Capitol.
“So much history has been made in this inauguration,” Miranda said on Thursday. “It’s something special. Your work has in some way sent some important message out there for everyone to look at.”
Miranda designed a political poster that was chosen for “In Pursuit Of,” a nationwide contest run by Amplifier, a nonprofit design lab, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. His winning entry is a photo of a barbed wire-topped fence against a blue sky, under the words “No Boundaries.” The underlying message, he said, is “there should be no limitations for anyone who’s just trying to do some good in the world — people should have freedom.”
As a senior in Rachel Lepine’s Photography II class at West Springfield High School, Miranda entered the contest as a class assignment. Miranda said he took the photo in West Springfield using his iPhone XR — the only camera he owns.
He said he loves to take photos around town, particularly images of animals, nature and buildings. Lepine said it’s common for her students to use their smartphones for class assignments, as the cameras are just as good as the entry-level film models that students used decades ago.
In addition to two photography classes, Miranda has also taken a graphic design class at West Springfield High School, learning the digital composition skills he needed to turn his photo into a digital poster with the “No Boundaries” text.
Lepine called Miranda “a standout student in the art department.” He’s been the West Springfield High School “artist of the week,” and was recently chosen to participate in the Massachusetts Art Education Association Youth Art Month exhibit.
Lepine said she asked all of her photography students to enter the “In Pursuit Of” contest. She said she was impressed with their submissions.
“Young adults … I think they sometimes feel that their opinion might not matter, and adults are making all the decisions,” Lepine said. “It’s nice they are able to express themselves through their artwork, and now with social media, it can be seen across the world.”
Miranda said he doesn’t think of himself as a particularly political person. Although he is interested in a career in law, he wasn’t thinking of any particular cause or policy when he conceived of “No Boundaries.”
“I just wanted to do something important, capture something important,” he said.
The contest winners were chosen by Amplifier and the J. Paul Getty Museum. There were 34 winning works chosen from more than 1,500 submissions. The name of the exhibit is a reference to the Declaration of Independence phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Teens from across the United States were invited to submit creative images sharing their hopes and beliefs on a social justice issue. Some of the other topics addressed in winning entries included immigration, environmental preservation, education and the need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Spokesperson Valerie Tate said the Getty Museum also plans to share the “In Pursuit Of” images through social media. The Los Angeles museum is unable to host in-person exhibits because of COVID-19 restrictions.
In addition to the projection in Washington, D.C., the images were also shown outdoors in Los Angeles. Amplifier had planned to project the images in New York City, but had to postpone that event, Tate said. No makeup date has been set.