A piece of art created by a senior Missouri Military Academy cadet will be displayed at one of U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler's district offices after placing in the 2019 Congressional Art Competition.

Sean Hughes is the son of Sam and Nicole Hughes. His painting, "Artificial Stars," will be placed either at Hartzler's Columbia or Harrisonville district offices, according to a news release. There were 29 entries in the competition in Hartzler's congressional district, MO-4.

The theme for this year's competition was "Made in America," and the beauty of American nature is what inspired Hughes' second place watercolor painting. "I'm a bit surprised to have gotten second place,” Hughes said. “That was a pleasant surprise.”

The painting depicts the natural beauty found in the simplest of places, like an American suburb. “It was quite enchanting when I saw it in person," Hughes said about his painting's subject.

Hughes was walking back to campus while he was on a break from his duties when light from a streetlamp was reflecting through ice on a tree branch this winter. "They way the light was reflecting off of the frozen branches was awesome," Hughes said.

He took a picture of the scene, upon which he based the painting. He learned of the art competition from academy art instructor Cheryl Morris.

Hughes' interest in art started last school year. He said he had a talent for drawing and was surpassing his fellow cadets in the class. This meant he would often create the same piece twice. One of his final projects was creating a paper and cardboard sculpture of a military tank, he said.

Even though Hughes' piece for the competition was a watercolor painting, he more often works in pencil or pen and ink drawings, but that doesn’t mean it's his favorite artistic medium. "I do find that I like acrylics and watercolors a bit more,” he said. “I just don't often get the chance to use them because I am kept so busy here this year."

Hughes is a senior and second lieutenant, so he has a lot of responsibilities that limit his time to create art. During his rare free time, he will make something, despite not being able to take an art course this semester, he said. "I just like to draw and paint in my spare time," he said.

His artistic avocation may eventually develop into a vocation through architecture, he said.

His first goal for his higher education is getting an engineering degree. "If I can manage to go toward architecture, then I can use a lot of my artistic talent there," Hughes said.

His choice for which school to attend is currently something of a toss-up between Missouri S&T and the University of Arkansas. Originally from Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hughes' family now lives in Russellville, Arkansas, where his father is a radiation oncologist.