BANGOR, Maine — He skis, he runs cross country, he’s part of a noted Soap Box Derby family and now Jeremy Vroom has been honored for his photography in a major way.

The Bangor High School senior is one of two Maine winners in the 2011 Congressional Arts Competition with a nighttime picture of Bangor’s downtown parking garage that is, well, elegant.

A trip to Washington and a reception at the Blaine House in Augusta are two of the honors that come with winning the 2011 Congressional Arts Competition.

And what’s really impressive is that Vroom’s photograph will hang in the U.S. Capitol for the next year.

U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree announced the winners of the Congressional Arts Competition. Also honored is Whitney Wei, a student at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale.

Held each year, the Congressional Art Competition features one piece of student artwork from every participating congressional district in the country. Maine’s winners, chosen by jurors selected by the Maine Arts Commission, will have their work displayed in the halls of U.S. Capitol for a year.

Both winning students, along with their families, will be flown to Washington, courtesy of competition sponsors, to participate in an opening ceremony in June.

“The arts tell our story as a people, and they play an important role in maintaining and strengthening our way of life,” said Michaud. “Numerous studies link exposure to the arts to increases in academic performance. Jeremy’s photography certainly demonstrates a devotion to excellence that will brighten the hallways of the Capitol for the many thousands of visitors that stop to admire this incredible collection of inspirational work throughout the year.”

“This competition always draws strong pieces of art from Maine students, and this year was no exception,” said Pingree. “Congratulations to Whitney, whose work captures an iconic image of Maine life. I certainly share her love for our state’s main streets, weathered and full of history, but enduring and vibrant still. I’m very proud her work will represent Maine at the Capitol. Thanks to the Maine Arts Commission for all their help in organizing this year’s competition.”

The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, more than 700,000 high school students have competed for the honor of having their work shown in the U.S. Capitol.

Before the students travel to Washington for the opening reception they will be honored in Maine. Jeremy Vroom, 2nd Congressional District, and Whitney Wei, 1st Congressional District, have been invited, along with runners-up, art teachers and family, to attend a reception at the Blaine House on May 7.

Runners-up in the 1st District are: Elizabeth Cox, Camden Hills Regional High School; Eve Hupper, Rockland District High School; and Emily Howell, Morse High School in Bath.

Runners-up from the 2nd District are: Cali Inman from Explorations Art Program at Bryant Pond; Matthew McKeown, Oak Hill High School in Wales; and Sylvia Beliveau, Lewiston High School.

Roxanne Moore Saucier

Family Ties columnist