To the untrained eye, the Cubist artwork by Kathleen Palmer, a senior at Shawnee High School in New Jersey, appears to show two men looking at each other.
One writes in a notebook, the other has antlers.
But when Rep, Andy Kim, a Democrat whose district the high school belongs to, contained a photo of Palmer’s creation in a tweet When the teenager announced that the teenager had won an art competition that earned the painting a spot in the US Capitol, they saw something completely different: fan art, inspired by the long-canceled NBC show “Hannibal,” which was based on a love story between two men nodded sign, recognized by the federal government.
“I didn’t know it was a TV show,” said Mr. Kim, who picked the winning painting from his district, on Friday. “I just found it very beautiful, well executed and very noticeable.”
The painting is titled “Dolce” after an episode from the third and final season of “Hannibal”. The show, which went off the air in 2015, examined the relationship between cannibalistic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, a character made famous by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, and Will Graham, a young F.B.I. Agent who empathizes with serial killers.
Palmer, using them and their pronouns, watched the show late last year after seeing clips from the series on TikTok. It took Palmer four weeks to complete the painting – a 16 “by 20” oil on canvas, her first Cubist-style work – and to finish the final details by December 23rd.
“It was just an occasional project in art class,” said 17-year-old Palmer on Friday. “I didn’t expect it to go that far.”
The painting reflects the dynamics between characters through the use of color, Palmer said. The warm reds on Hannibal’s side of the painting evoke the serial killer’s bloodlust and passion, while Will’s cool blues depicts being both hunted and hunted in the couple’s cat-and-mouse game.
The U.S. Capitol is an unusually high profile place to display fan art, which is typically a love work. The art form often has a long passion, but little recognition outside of generally closed fan communities.
Fans inspired by their favorite books, shows, games, and movies have long drawn their own notebooks, with zines – independent, usually self-published magazines – being one of the few ways to get the work of art in the world before the internet publish. Others write fanfiction, create their own scripts, and make new stories with dialogues that they want to see.
But the rise of blogging platforms like LiveJournal and Tumblr made it easier than ever for obsessive fans to find each other, introduce their work to recognized, like-minded audiences, and inspire more artists to participate.
Sometimes the work of art is made in honorto take beloved characters and present them in a new light based on the artist’s personal style. At other times, fans take these beloved characters and shove them into new contexts, remixing the source material at will.
A common form occurs in the shipping industry where two characters are introduced into a romantic relationship or an audience helps them be together. It often happens to two characters who have an undeniable chemistry, even when the starting material doesn’t come out right and say it. (The term “slash” is used for same-sex relationships and “slash” is used for the art and writing that put them together.)
The two characters in Palmer’s painting, Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, have Long since delivered by “Hannibal” fanswho gave the couple a nickname: “Hannigram”.
“I think I put that in the picture,” Palmer said of the slashfic, adding that there is strong implication on the show that the characters have a romantic spark.
The Art competition in the congress, now in its 40th year, is sponsored by the Congressional Institute, a non-profit organization focused on educating the public about Congress. The evaluation process is carried out by US representatives. In the spring, a winner will be selected from each of the 435 congressional districts hosting the competition.
Mr. Kim consulted six local artists and art enthusiasts for recommendations, but the Congressman made the final decision. There were 12 entries in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, which stretches from the Delaware River to the Jersey Shore. This was the third year that Mr. Kim was first elected in 2018, has hosted the competition in his district.
According to Mark N. Strand, President of the Congressional Institute, each of the winning paintings will be displayed in a tunnel between the House of Representatives and a congressional office building.
“It’s a great opportunity to let children show their art to the world,” said Strand on Friday. “And it’s one of the most bipartisan things members can do.”
Palmer began making art about six years ago, starting with drawing. From time to time, Palmer said, they fell off the cart, but while forced to stay home at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, they rediscovered art as a passion.
“I really like to do beautiful things,” said Palmer on Friday. “It is really enjoyable to do beauty.”
Palmer said the unexpected support from the competition inspired them to keep working on their art, particularly as they prepared to go to Ohio University as a studio arts major.
“It was a great motivator,” said Palmer of winning the competition. “To be validated on this scale is really fantastic. It lit the fire below me to paint more and work more on my skills. “