Doodle 4 Google: Meet the Winning Artist Akilah Johnson

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The winning Google Doodle by Akilah Johnson. (Google)

Akilah Johnson, a high school sophomore from Washington, D.C., has been picked as the winner of the 2016 Doodle 4 Google contest, the company announced Monday. Her artwork, titled “Afrocentric life,” is featured on the Google home page.

According to Google, she was picked out of 100,000 participants from 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and D.C. Five national finalists were invited to spend the day at Google Headquarters in California for the award ceremony.

The eighth annual competition called for young artists to create their own Doodle, with the theme “What Makes Me… Me.”

Johnson, 15, decided to honor her black heritage with her Doodle. She drew it using colored pencils, black crayons and Sharpie markers, according to the Washington Post.

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Akilah Johnson. (Google)

The Eastern Senior High School sophomore wrote about her artwork on the Google blog:

My goal with my art was to not only turn heads but souls as well—not only for someone to see it and be amazed by it but also to have them understand and connect with it. My drawing explores childhood themes and then moves into reflections on our society. Everything surrounding the word “Google” depicts my characteristics. Of all the things I chose to include, the six most special to me are the Symbol of Life (the ankh), the African continent, where everything began for me and my ancestors, the Eye of Horus, the word “power” drawn in black, the woman’s fist based on one of my favorite artist’s works, and the D.C. flag—because I’m a Washingtonian at heart and I love my city with everything in me!

She said that she attended Roots Public Charter School and Roots Activity Learning Center in Northwest Washington, D.C. when she was younger.

Johnson wrote that the schools “promote a strong connection to African heritage, and an Afrocentric lifestyle; we regularly celebrated important African American people and I learned a lot about my history as an African American. As I grew older, I realized that the black people that came before us have made us into what we are today. So of course I had to include them in my doodle on the theme What makes me…me.”

She said she was encouraged to pursue art by her teachers from a young age.

“No matter our differences, everyone is touched by art in some way,” she wrote. “Winning this competition opened my eyes to the many types of art and the many ways it can resonate with people. I’m excited to keep creating art that matters.”

Johnson was honored in a ceremony at her high school after she was announced as a finalist.

“Looking at this painting and looking at this head itself does something to me,” Tikecia Johnson, Akilah’s mother told Fox 5 DC. “This is worth millions to me. I have a lot of pride for Akilah. I’m very excited because it shows me that she paid attention to her history. Actually, she knows more than I do.”

Her art teacher, Zalika Perkins, told the news station, “When I saw her work, I thought it would be perfect for the Google Doodle contest. I was just amazed at what came of it.”

Johnson also wins a $30,000 college scholarship and her high school was awarded a $50,000 Google for Education grant.

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