Each year, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation sponsors the North Carolina Aviation Art Contest to engage young people in aviation and aeronautics in the state. The annual contest offers all children who live in or attend school in North Carolina the chance to explore various aspects of aviation, and in 2020 the North Carolina Museum of Art partnered with the Division of Aviation to exhibit the state’s 30 winners. While the NCMA galleries are open, this virtual exhibition of winners, 10 at each level of elementary, middle, and high school, shares not only images of the winning artworks, but also information about how this annual art contest reaches students across North Carolina.
The art contest begins each fall, when the NCDOT makes a press announcement and sends letters to art teachers across North Carolina. Students must submit their art by a certain date in January.
Division of Aviation staff then begin to review the art and select 100 works from each age group to move on to the next round. From there, the top 10 finalists are selected before judges pick the top three in each age bracket.
Those top three winners, nine in total, move on to the National Aviation Art Contest sponsored by NASAO, the National Association of State Aviation Officials. Winners of that contest move on to an international competition held in Switzerland; this year, North Carolina had two finalists place nationally and move forward to the international competition.
In 2020 North Carolina received entries from 2,420 students—the most in any state, ever. The entries came from students in 219 schools and 77 of the state’s 100 counties.
In both 2019 and 2020, two North Carolina students have placed in the top three nationally and have gone on to the International Aviation Art Contest in Switzerland.
Since 2014, 8,236 students have participated in the North Carolina contest.
View the 30 North Carolina winners (10 each in elementary, middle, and high school) in this Flickr album, which includes students’ names and details.
Two North Carolina students finished in the top three of the national contest and had their art submitted to Switzerland for the international round.