Stressing the positive
DHS junior’s award-winning collage tells of busy life
Lindsay Koehler's personal universe is packed.
The De Soto High School junior depicted it in a digital photo collage that framed her stressed-out face with layers of sticky notes, college pamphlets, homework and musical scores to represent the things that make up her life.
Koehler's collage, titled "My Personal Universe," was chosen to represent the Kansas 3rd District in "An Artistic Discovery," the annual nationwide Congressional Art Competition. Rep. Dennis Moore presented Koehler with an award Monday at his Overland Park office, and her collage will be displayed in the Cannon Tunnel, an underground walkway leading to the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
"This piece, 'My Personal Universe,' reflects me as a whole," Koehler said. "I am very involved in my school, my church and my city. The various pieces within this piece reflect my stresses, my success and my goals for the future."
At De Soto High School, Koehler participates in forensics, theater and Madrigals and is student life editor for the yearbook. Her parents are Ted and Debra Koehler of Lenexa.
When she's finished with high school, Koehler is considering pursuing a career in secondary education, though she doesn't yet know where she'll attend college.
Koehler said even though her life was hectic, she preferred taking advantage of as much as she could instead of sitting back and watching high school "fly by."
"My parents always tell me that I give myself too much stress and I do too much stuff," Koehler said. "But usually it's good stress. I get through it all, and I try to come out on top."
Koehler created "My Personal Universe" as a project for her independent study course in photography. She used Adobe Photoshop to manipulate photos and digital scans into a self-portrait collage.
De Soto High School art teacher Tim Mispagel said Koehler's choice of photo -- her facial expression reflects that of an anxious high school student -- as well as the collage approach resulted in an expressive self-portrait.
"I liked that in the picture it shows more of her personality," he said, adding that Koehler was deadline-oriented, musically inclined and took a full schedule that included honors classes.
Koehler said she had several posed photos taken but that the one she chose was taken when she wasn't ready for it. She didn't like the shot at first but eventually settled on it because it helped show that she wasn't perfect.
Mispagel said he thought Koehler mastered her arrangement of "My Personal Universe," too.
"I think she was very successful in the way that she assembled it," he said. "It has a compelling composition, but at the same time there's not so many things going on in it to where it's busy."
"An Artistic Discovery" is sponsored annually by U.S. House of Representatives members. An independent art advisory panel selects winners.
"I host this competition each year to encourage and recognize the rich artistic talents of high school students in the 3rd District of Kansas," Moore said. "I was particularly impressed by Lindsay's piece because we can all relate to the challenges of daily life and being pulled in many directions."
Koehler's recognition marks the second year in a row for a De Soto High School student to win the Kansas 3rd District award. Last year, Joey Grimm's "Sexy Self Portrait" was displayed in the Washington, D.C., Cannon Tunnel.
As a high school student in Colorado, Mispagel also had artwork selected for the 1989 Congressional Competition, and his piece hung in the same tunnel.
Southwest Airlines donated three tickets to Koehler to travel to Washington for the 2005 show's opening reception in June.