In May, Celine Fong ’24 won the Grand Prize award for the Lowell Milken Center for the Unsung Heroes 8th Annual International ARTEFFECT competition. The competition challenges students to creatively interpret the stories of unsung heroes through original works of art, in order to share these untold stories from across history with their communities.
Celine’s oil painting, A Beacon of Hope, depicts the story of Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat who saved thousands during World War II by secretly issuing passports in Nazi-occupied France. He was also the sole Iranian diplomat who remained in Paris during the occupation, where he convinced the Germans to exempt Jugutis—a term for the descendants of Persian Jews who continued to practice Judaism—from Nazi anti-Jewish measures.
From her artist impact statement, Celine said, “Through learning more about his journey and evaluating a man who believed that his own agency could empower those around him, I truly believe that one person can make a significant difference and enact change even within the boundaries of systemic oppression…In reaffirming the unacknowledged heroes from the past, we have the power to amplify their contributions, preserve their memories, and better comprehend our collective history to engender a well-informed future.”
Out of all the submissions from high school and middle school students across the globe, Celine was one of just nine winners selected. The judging panel consisted of Lowell Milken Center’s executive leadership, as well as visual arts experts at the Skirball Cultural Center, CalArts, Museum of Ventura County, and ArtCenter College of Design. The award-winning works will be displayed in the Lowell Milken Center’s Hall of Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, a museum and research center.
Images courtesy of the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes