The Unsung Heroes ARTEFFECT Art Competition 2024

Deadline: 2nd of May, 2024

The Unsung Heroes ARTEFFECT Competition invites submissions from all middle and high school students interested in making a positive impact through their art!

First awarded in 2016, hundreds of students have participated in ARTEFFECT in the U.S. and around the globe. The Competition is focused on creatively interpreting the story of an Unsung Hero from history in a visual artwork. The untold stories of Unsung Heroes are uncovered through in-depth research and project-based learning facilitated by the Lowell Milken Center’s Discovery Award Competition. The judging panel will give the most consideration to entries that celebrate the Unsung Hero’s contribution in a high-quality artwork that is visually compelling and original in concept.

Students may interpret the Unsung Hero’s story in myriad ways including – but not limited to – a narrative sequence or story, portraiture, symbols and abstraction, a landscape.  Multiple mediums are accepted for submission including 2-D and 3-D visual artworks in painting, drawing, mixed media, digital, and sculpture.

Multiple mediums are acceptable for submission including:

  • 2-D dry media such as graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, pastels.
  • 2-D wet media such as acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache, ink wash, printmaking.
  • 2-D digital media
  • Various mixed media such as photography, digital, graphics, textiles, collage, paper.
  • 3-D media such as sculpture, ceramic, assemblage.

There is no size limit. Artwork, media and dimensions must be listed on the competition submission form.

Students will also submit a written “Impact Statement” to accompany their artwork. This essay discusses the Unsung Hero’s unique contribution, the student’s creative process and interpretation, and how the student intends to share their artwork within their own community. All submissions must be accompanied by an Impact Statement (minimum of 500 words to a maximum of 1,000 words). In this essay, students should address the following prompts:

  • What do you find inspirational about your chosen Unsung Hero and why?
  • How does your work express your Unsung Hero’s character and heroic acts?
  • What is the vision behind your creative interpretation?
  • How has the process of creating this work of art changed your outlook on life?
  • How will you share your artwork and/or experience with your community? Include any photos and weblinks, as relevant, to illustrate the extended reach of your project.


Top Prizes

  • Grand Prize—$6,000
  • Spotlight Prize—$1,000

High School (9-12th grade)

  • Best in Show– $3,000
  • Second Place–$2,000

Middle School (6-8th grade)

  • Best in Show–$2,000
  • Second Place–$1,000

Note: Additional prizes and honorable mentions may be awarded at the discretion of the judging panel. Winning artworks will be given full consideration for display in Unsung Heroes ARTEFFECT exhibitions.


  • The ARTEFFECT 2023-2024 Competition is open to all U.S. and international middle and high school students.
  • Projects must be entirely student-produced.
  • Students who have previously won two prizes are no longer eligible.
  • No submission can win more than one prize




  • Visit the Apply link by clicking on the “APPLY NOW” button.
  • Create and log in to your account.
  • Complete the online form to submit as instructed.

Students must submit the following materials –

  • A fully completed online application
  • Images of their artworks (in .jpg or .png format) (3 images max, 5MB limit).
  • An Impact Statement.
  • A Sponsoring Teacher and Parent Approval

Click here to apply

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