With a new acquaintance, 15-year-old artist Alex Berko, vice president Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff rang in the winter holidays.
Harris and Emhoff live close to the Naval Observatory, where Berko attends the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. The vice president’s official mansion was shown to Berko by his visual arts teacher earlier this year, who then asked him to visualise it in a wintry scene while omitting crucial information about the assignment’s intent.
Unaware of it, Berko was competing in a covert design competition where his painting will be compared to others from Washington, D.C. The winning entry would be featured on the holiday card for the second family in 2022, created by students.
When Harris and Emhoff learned that Berko’s artwork had been chosen for their holiday card, they all went on Zoom in November to share the good news with Berko and his family.
Harris and Emhoff felt it was time to bring Berko to their home, the one he painted, and celebrate his accomplishment after the 2022 holiday cards had been printed and corresponding decorations made.
Harris yelled “Alexander!” and shook Berko’s hand before giving him a hug.
She excitedly read the reverse of the holiday card, where a small biography on Berko reveals the narrative behind the painting, aloud to him. “Oh my God, that’s so insane,” he exclaimed, glancing at the text for himself. Harris retorted, “No, it’s magnificent, that’s what it is.
Harris and Emhoff took some photos with Berko and gifted him with his own copy of the card that was signed by the second family and one of the ornaments inspired by his design.
The teen is a “dynamic artist” and student leader on his campus, according to the vice president’s office information from Mike Easton, Berko’s visual arts instructor.
His mother, Julie Berko, said he has always been creative; as a young child, he even painted the walls of his house. She expressed excitement to watch his skill grow as a result of receiving an art education.
One Observatory Circle is shown in a snow globe in Berko’s artwork, resting on a wooden table with ornamental pine cones, fir leaves, and red berries. “Happy Holidays” was added to the design in embossed gold lettering by the vice president’s office.