Carmel teen wins Congressional Art Competition in Indiana’s 5th District


A Carmel resident won this year’s Congressional Art Competition for Indiana’s 5th District. The annual spring competition highlights high school students’ artwork across the nation and in each congressional district.

CIC COM 0613 Congressional Art Winner
“Indian-American Oil on Canvas” won the Congressional Art Competition in Indiana’s 5th District. (Painting by Maya Bhagwat)

Carmel High School student Maya Bhagwat’s piece, “Indian-American Oil on Canvas,” won first place among 13 submissions in the district.

Bhagwat, 16, used oil and gold acrylic paint to create a painting depicting young Indian brides. She said she was inspired by Mexican painter Frida Kaho and her use of color.

“I think it’s one of my favorite pieces that I’ve made,” Bhagwat said. “Not because it’s complicated or very realistic. It’s an abstract. It’s more like it speaks through its colors. I think that’s my favorite part about it.”

Bhagwat began painting in elementary school. She developed a passion for it and aspires to pursue a career in art.

“I recently got a position at a student-led magazine called Gaia Zine,” Bhagwat said. “I’m a curator for that. I organize the art in a gallery-sense online.”

This month, Bhagwat will travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the 2023 Congressional Art Competition Reception, where she and other district winners will be honored. “Indian-American Oil on Canvas” will be showcased next to winning artwork from other congressional districts in the Canon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., for one year.

U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, who represents Indiana’s 5th District, looks forward to seeing Bhagwat’s painting at the U.S. Capitol building.

“The talent that Maya and many other young artists throughout Indiana’s 5th District possess is incredible,” Spartz said.