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October 24, 2021

Surrealist Finishes First in Congressional Art Awards & American Art Awards

 Surrealist Gian Lee of Englewood Cliffs is building an impressive collection of awards for her art, including first place accolades in both the American Art Awards and the Congressional Art Awards in District 9.


Her painting, “Left Behind,” garnered first place honors in the Congressional Art Awards, and is currently on exhibit at the U.S. Capitol. The artist explained this piece was inspired by her grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Her work, which depicts a man sitting in a peaceful, but lonely, setting, demonstrates how her grandfather remains physically present, but his mental state has changed, Lee shared.


Lee also captured first place and fourth place in the American Art Awards for her paintings “Forbidden Still Life” and “Left Behind,” respectively. Her work “Eyes of the Beholder” drew fifth place honors.


“The inspiration for my work titled ‘Forbidden Still Life’ was a fun twist on what painting a ‘still life’ could mean, and I tried to combine those two words together to create a fun composition and setup with small details hidden in the painting,” Lee said of the eclectic images she represented. Her richly textured still life includes an avocado with an eye in place of the pit, orchids, a lace tablecloth, a bat, and other surprises.


“Eyes of the Beholder,” Lee said, represents “my own feelings of self-consciousness as well as the toxicity of social media.” This work features human images being observed by an eye that is being held in a large hand. Smaller eyes also appear throughout the work.


Lee is a member of the Class of 2022 at the Academy of the Holy Angels, where she is currently taking Advanced Placement Studio Art. She has been studying art at AHA since her freshman year, and takes additional lessons at an outside studio. She plans to major in fine art during her college years.


In addition to her most recent awards, Lee has received honors in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. She earned Gold Keys for “Left Behind” and her sculpture, “Red, ‘Yellow,’ and Blue.” She received a Silver Key for her photo, “Figure and Ground.” Lee also brought home three Honorable Mentions in writing for her poem, “Pepper Flake,” and two personal essays, “Adultescent” and “Maybe it was the Rain.”


Lee is a member of the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, and the National Art Honor Society.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.