Expressions of Freedom

Expressions of Freedom Third Place Mayra Penaranda
Expressions of Freedom Photo Contest - Third Place Winner

Mayra Penaranda

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News Release Date: May 22, 2013

Contact: Gary Bremen, 305-338-6584

Homestead, FL - Mayra Penaranda of Miami is the third-place winner of the Expressions of Freedom National Art Competition sponsored by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation. She will receive a national park pass for her photo. She is one of nine teenagers from communities around the nation who have won scholarships and national recognition for their art commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The contest was sponsored jointly by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation's African American Experience Fund. As the closest National Park to Penaranda's home, Biscayne National Park will be honoring her achievement during the opening reception for the park's newest art exhibit on Sunday, June 9 from 1-3 pm. The public is invited to join in at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery, located at 9700 SW 328 Street, 9 miles east of Homestead, Florida. Admission to the park and the event is free.

"Through the Expressions of Freedom competition, students had a chance to share their personal reflections on what freedom really means to them - with truly inspiring results," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said." The emotions captured in these creative works also reflect the stories of courage and triumph told in America's national parks."

Penaranda's black-and-white photo was taken on a trip to New York City. "I took the picture at a ferry terminal," Penaranda said. "It was just a random family that was waiting to board the ferry and something about the way they were standing together and somehow subtly interacting without saying one word to each other really captivated me. There was also a glimpse of hope from the way the light was framing their faces, which reminded me of the struggles that so many ethnic groups have faced at one point or another in the US and even other places around the world."

Nine winners and eight honorable mentions were selected from more than 250 student submissions in three categories: photography, poetry and digital short films. Students between the ages of 13-18 years were challenged to answer the question, "What does freedom mean to you?" The nationwide competition offered youth an opportunity to connect with the many national parks that tell the stories of the nation's journey from Civil War to civil rights - from Stones River National Battlefield and the General Grant National Memorial, to Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail. Competitors used their art to explore the enduring themes of our nation's struggles for freedom and equality for all. While Biscayne National Park may not seem to have an obvious connection to the "Civil War to civil rights" story, there are actually many connections. Robert E. Lee and George Gordon Meade, later generals for the Confederate and United States Armies in the battle of Gettysburg, both surveyed and worked on Biscayne Bay. The Underground Railroad's southern spur to the Bahamas passed through the park. Slave ships plied the park's waters. An African-American family was the largest private landholder in what is now the park…during a time when nearby Miami had segregated water fountains and restaurant seating. Asian and Caribbean immigrants have been smuggled through the park for nearly a century. The park's Visitor Center sits on the site of Homestead's former "blacks-only" beach. These stories and more are all part of the park's "Finding Freedom on Biscayne Bay" interpretive efforts.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

About the National Park Foundation. You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world's most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites -- all protected in America's 401 national parks.Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks.We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.Join us in supporting your national parks -- this is your land.

About Biscayne National Park. Biscayne National Park, the largest marine park in the National Park System, protects the longest stretch of mangrove forest on Florida's East coast, the clear, shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, over 50 of the northernmost Florida Keys, the northern end of the world's third-longest reef tract, and 10,000 years of human history! Learn more at

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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