DC high-schooler wins national Doodle for Google competition with portrait of ‘super chaotic’ family dinners

google doodle art work
Maisie Derlega sent her Google doodle with the following prompt response: “Every Sunday night is filled with chaos, laughter, and the smell of food in my household. The standing invitation goes to any friends and family in the area. As my life grows and changes, my wish for the next 25 years is that this tradition remains a constant.” (Courtesy Google)

A D.C. high school graduate won the 2024 Doodle for Google competition, with her design gracing the homepage of the search engine website on Wednesday, June 26.

The Doodle for Google contest calls for students to submit creative versions of the Google logo based on a theme. This year’s theme tasked students with representing their wish for the next 25 years through art.

Maisie Derlega, who graduated from Jackson-Reed High School only a week ago, won the national competition top prize of $55,000 in scholarship money and a $50,000 technology package for her former high school.

Derlega told WTOP in May, when she won the statewide Google competition, that her design took her over 35 hours to complete on her iPad and was inspired by her extended family’s “super chaotic” Sunday dinners.

The weekly dinners began a little after the pandemic, when her extended family in the area, including aunts and uncles and 1-, 3- and 5-year-old cousins, would gather around the dinner table to catch up on their weeks and share the delicious food her father cooked.

“It’s really, really fun. And it’s something that I really look forward to,” Derlega said. “My wish for the next 25 years was not for any changes, but more kind of a consistent, to continue having those dinners. Because they mean a lot to me.”

She says that the dinner spawned a group chat and a standing invitation for anyone to come over each Sunday, which has made her feel closer to her family and family friends. The doodle is a window into those dinners, with the evening golden hour illuminating a table full of food and motioning hands.

“I feel like people talk with their hands a lot. And like, there’s always so much happening, like every single person is doing something different,” she explained. “The focus was to kind of show the community that forms around it. And around food, which is something that’s really important to my family, my dad’s a chef.”

Food has always been an integral part of Derlega’s childhood, especially after her father became a chef when she was in fourth grade. Now, he’s a private chef working across D.C. and uses food to express his love for his family.

“I feel like growing up, the way I really connected with my dad was through food. Especially because we’re both kind of creative types. And that’s kind of how we express ourselves,” she said. “I would do a lot of the baking and he would do a lot of the cooking. And so we were in the kitchen together.”

Even thought this doodle was inspired by a tradition specific to her family, Derlega hopes people across the nation can see their own “loved ones” in the art piece.

“I just really wanted to capture that kind of sense of chaos, but also, you know, mutual love and appreciation for each other,” she said. “I also kind of want to tell a larger story of just the importance of family and community, and kind of getting together.”

This is the first time Derlega took part in the Google competition, but she told WTOP in May that she thought the contest was “an incredible way to put yourself out there” and that she hoped to continue her artistic journey no matter how the competition turned out.

Derlega announced Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show that she will be attending the University of Michigan to study art and design. She hopes to one day create illustrations for media and news organizations.

WTOP’s Scott Gelman contributed to this report.

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Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

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