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“Building Blocks”: Flying High with Automotive Travel

Young Artist Wins Petersen Prestige Award & Silver Award in FY22 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest!

Kaitlyn Chen creates digital art and paints on canvas, too.

Imagine a futuristic world where everything from aquariums to mansions to opera houses is located inside of a flying cube, connected together like building blocks. Fifteen-year-old Kaitlyn Chen of Medina, Washington did just that with her futuristic “Building Blocks” artwork, which earned her the Silver Award in the FY22 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest.

“Building Blocks”: Flying High with Automotive Travel Winning Artwork

When thinking about an innovative car to design Kaitlyn considered that there is much more space in the sky than on land. She dreamed up an effective solution that not only prevented traffic congestion, but also allowed for reconfiguration so that people could live closer to where they work, played, and visited.

Her vehicle’s self-contained system of blocks recycle garbage for fuel, offsetting any damage to the ecosystem caused by improper waste disposal, and avoiding the use of fossil fuels that damage the earth’s atmosphere.

“Building Blocks”, by 15 Year Old Kaitlyn Chen of Medina, Washington

3D model of Kaitlyn Chen’s award-winning design

Kaitlyn’s “Building Blocks” design caught the eye of Autumn Nyiri, an associate curator at the Petersen Automotive Museum, who selected the young artist to receive the Petersen Prestige Award for her winning digital artwork in the 2022 competition. Since 2021, the Petersen Prestige Award is presented to a youth whose artwork submitted to the Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest envisioned the automotive world in a new and exciting way.

“Chen’s design finds the answer to traffic congestion by taking transportation to the sky”, said Nyiri. “In her futuristic world, instead of needing a separate vehicle to transport oneself from place to place, the places become vehicles themselves, traveling through the air to link up with each other as needed. Her fantastical, yet well-thought-out, art piece looks at the future of transportation in an entirely new way,” 

Autumn Nyiri, Associate Art Curator at the Petersen Automotive Museum

An 11th grade student at Lakeside School, Kaitlyn heard about this contest from her art teacher and took her love of drawing for the ultimate test drive in her digital tools. Inspired by a lecture on homelessness given at her school, over a period of two months, she used ProCreate© with an Apple Pencil on her iPad to sketch, draw, and paint her transformational car placed against its magical scene.

“I wanted to create a housing and transportation system that was more space efficient than what exists today, which led me to the idea of designing a flying two-in-one vehicle in which people could also live. Flight was important because it would allow for upward expansion,” said Kaitlyn. “I’m really grateful that my artwork was chosen for an award and I hope someday that Toyota will be able to make my idea come to life!”

The Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest also inspired another exciting project that incorporates the STEAM approach to teaching and learning, combining science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math to guide student inquiry, discussion, and problem-solving. Presented in partnership by Toyota Motor North America, California State University Dominguez Hills (CSU-DH), and the Petersen Automotive Museum, university students create their own 3D interpretations of the contest’s top winning artworks.

Seven of this year’s 3D models – including one inspired by Katlyin’s “Building Blocks” – are on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum in the Rob and Melani Walton Discovery Center (Saturday, October 29, 2022 through Sunday, March 26, 2023). For museum hours, visit www.petersen.org. Three there 3D models are displayed on the first floor of the Toyota Center for Innovation in STEM Education on the CSU-DH campus in the Science & Innovation Building (1000 E. Victoria St., Carson, CA 90747).

Digital artwork submission Building Blocks by Kaitlyn Chen wins 2022 Petersen Prestige Award
Another view of the 3D model of Kaitlyn Chen’s design

Through the work of Kaitlyn and many other young artists, Toyota is proud to hold a contest that inspires children and teens to dream about the future of cars while using art to inspire others to make an impact on the world. Now in its 12th year, the FY23 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest launched in the United States on October 1, 2022. Artwork by U.S. youth, ages 4-15, may be submitted online or by mail for this year’s U.S. contest through January 31, 2023. Entry forms for this year’s contest are available at www.ToyotaDreamCarUSA.com/entry-forms.

Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan held the first worldwide contest in 2004. Nearly 90 countries now host national contests. All countries submit their top nine winners to Japan as entries into the World Contest. To learn about the World Contest, visit www.Toyota-DreamCarArt.com.

About Toyota: Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 38 million cars and trucks in North America, where we have 14 manufacturing plants, 15 including our joint venture in Alabama (10 in the U.S.), and directly employ more than 47,000 people (over 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold 2.8 million cars and trucks (2.4 million in the U.S.) in 2018. Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.