Romelo Rosario tearful depiction of an old woman mourning loss in this era of today’s pandemic won top honors in the 2020 Congressional Art Competition and a place in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar announced last week during a virtual awards ceremony that the soon-to-graduate’s “The Messenger” would represent Texas’ 16th Congressional District. Rosario work was among 60 art pieces vying to be displayed in the capitol for a year.
“Congratulations to Romelo Rosario and all young El Paso artists for sharing with us their talent and creativity during this difficult time,” Escobar said. “As our community confronts a pandemic that has altered our lives, art is a tool that can transform and console, and I am thankful to artists, teachers, and judges for their participation and dedication to make this year’s competition a success.”
Rosario began working on the stunning piece in March and continued through April – drawing with great detail on the emotion struggles brought on by the pandemic and the tragic COVID-19 deaths. He borrowed features from his grandmother and other El Paso women to create the portrait – with crows depicting death and a single marigold to represent hope.
“It represents someone from El Paso who’s lived and experienced things here – even death here,” Rosario said. “It’s titled ‘Messenger’ because crows are the messengers of death – where there’s death the crows are not far away. It shows growth and healing because the crow is carrying a marigold.”
A rather shy young man with an incredible talent, Rosario uses his art to show emotion and say what he cannot.
“I have trouble communicating with other people because I’m introverted but through art work I’m able to share a message and express my voice in a way that no words can express,” he said. “It’s an important part of who I am and how I communicate with other people.”
Romelo’s work has captured the eye of many within EPISD and among the art community locally, regionally and nationally. He was the Scholastic winner for the Southwest region and the National level last year. His artwork also graces the cover of EPISD’s 2019 holiday card for winning the high school division of the annual competition.
“Romelo’s artwork shows a quiet beauty that always delivers a powerful message,” said Rosa Aguilar, visual arts facilitator. “His dedication to the arts has inspired many of his peers and our community of artists. We are very excited to know that his artwork will be on display at our nation’s Capitol.”
News that Rosario won the competition wasn’t a surprised for Aguilar and the fine art’s staff.
“I have been honored to watch Romelo grow as an artist throughout these past years under the guidance of his Chapin art teachers,” Aguilar said. “His artwork will represent EPISD and our city during times where artists voices are needed the most.”
Rosario plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin this fall and continue to focus on his craft by earning a bachelor’s of fine arts degree and eventually a master’s of fine arts degree that will allow him to teach at the college level.
“I was always an artist even when I was little wanted to be an artist even though I’ve been told I cannot make a career out of it,” he said. “I want to see how I can inspire others to be creative and reach other people. That’s something that really excites me.”
To see the other 59 works of art by area high school students, go to Escobar’s Congressional Facebook page.
Story by Reneé De Santos – EPISD