Abby Sanders loves nature, photography and her sister.
And U.S. Rep. Kay Granger loves the result when the Aledo High School senior combined the three in a piece of art. She loved it so much she chose it to hang on the wall of her office.
Sanders' creation, entitled "Daughter Nature," was selected as the Granger's Choice Award winner in the recent Congressional Art Competition. Students throughout Granger's district submitted their artwork, but only one was chosen by the congresswoman as her personal favorite.
"It was a really difficult decision because each participant showed so much talent and originality," Granger said. "I chose Abby's piece because of her technique and composition."
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Granger's district includes the western half of Tarrant County, part of Wise County and all of Parker County. The Congressional Art Competition has been in place since 1982.
Sanders' work is a photographic piece in which she used double exposure to combine a picture of her fifth-grade sister Leslee with some of her favorite places, including the Rocky Mountains and her family ranch in Haskell.
As for the name?
"When you hear Mother Nature you think of an older woman. My little sister is not old enough to be a mom, so that's why I decided on that name," Sanders said.
Sanders said the idea came to her when she was learning double exposure in her high school photography class.
"I'd been researching it about a week, and I kind of had an idea. I pulled my sister in and it all just came together better than I expected," she said. "It took about three days in class to create, and I'm really proud of it."
Sanders said she was surprised at receiving the news from Granger's office. She's only been taking photography class for two years, though she has been an artist since age 10, and had "dabbled" with a camera she received a few years ago.
"It's a great way to express myself, but this was a total surprise," she said. "I've entered several contests before, but this is the best result yet. It's a really big deal, and I did not expect it."
Linda Greenwood, Abby's photography teacher at Aledo, said she is proud of the way her prized student used the things she loves to create the winning art.
"She used her knowledge in composition and Photoshop to come up with the perfect piece," Greenwood said. "It exemplifies two of her favorite things, her sister and nature.
"I'm so excited for Abby. She worked so hard on this."
Ironically, Sanders does not want to be a professional photographer. She plans to attend culinary school at Johnson & Wales University-Denver.
"Photography is more of a hobby, and I definitely love it," she said. "It's something I could choose to do for a living and I'd be fine with that. It's nice to know something I did is appreciated so much."