- Associated Press - Sunday, June 29, 2014

BANCROFT, Neb. (AP) - If a picture says a thousand words, how many does a carefully detailed drawing of two of the most important people in your life say?

To those who don’t know the full story of Jerrica Tietz’s artistic inspirations, it says “winner.”

For the second straight year, Tietz, the 17-year-old daughter of Duane and Sheryl Tietz, has won the Congressional Art Competition in Nebraska’s First District. Her pencil sketch of her grandparents, Lloyd and Helen Tietz, was judged the best of 30 entries and will be displayed in the Cannon Tunnel in the Capitol in Washington.

The Sioux City Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1nAUQ6k ) it replaces “Faith,” her winning entry from last year, a pencil sketch of her niece Faith.

Take one look at Tietz’ winning drawings, and it’s obvious she’s saying a lot more than can be described with words. The talented young artist’s feelings about the people she’s drawn leap from the gray pencil marks.

The picture of Grandma and Grandpa Tietz, titled “Love for a Lifetime,” is a tribute to their strong bond. Tietz said the two still walk hand-in-hand when together. They’ve always been a big part of her life, and an example of the kind of love she hopes to share with someone someday.

“They’ve always come to my games, and they’re very active in my life,” Tietz said.

Drawing “Faith” was in memory of her niece, who was just 6 months old when she died, a death that was hard to deal with.

“She died, and I needed a way to cope with it, so I drew,” Tietz said.

She did more than draw.

The pictures are captivating not only because of their attention to every detail, be it a wrinkle in her grandparents’ faces, or the individual fibers of Faith’s clothing, but each seemingly makes eye contact with the viewer. Sheryl Tietz brings immediate attention to the eyes in all of her daughter’s subjects.

“They just look so real,” Sheryl Tietz said.

It would be easy, and understandable, for a teenager to get caught up in the thrill of winning a contest and having her work displayed for a year in Washington. Tietz said it’s neat to win, but more meaningful to her is that a larger audience will be able to learn about the people who mean so much to her.

It’s a way to introduce thousands of strangers to the people she loves.

She’s thrilled that others will see Grandma and Grandpa’s smiling faces and see the same love in their eyes she witnesses.

Last year’s winning piece enabled her to share how special her niece was.

“I was really, really surprised and happy that Faith’s story could continue on a little longer,” Tietz said.

There are many other drawings framed in Tietz’ rural Bancroft home. They may not all have the same personal meaning as the ones of her grandparents or niece, but they all have served a purpose.

A Bancroft-Rosalie High School senior, Tietz is a cheerleader and also is involved in volleyball, basketball, track, speech, drama and music. Her schedule can get hectic, but drawing during art class or at home helps her unwind.

“Since I’m so busy all the time, it just calms me to just sit there and draw and not think about other things,” she said. “I’ve just done it since I was little. I always loved drawing.”

Especially pictures of those she loves.

No words could make that any clearer.

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