Diversity Fingerprint

By: Sergio Naranjo Segura

Benicarlo, Spain

Artist Statement

Recent research on DNA reveals that human beings have an extremely varied genetic inheritance; even in some very isolated populations, the genetic variation is remarkable. A person from Haiti can have DNA that is shared with people from France, Tunisia, Poland, Vietnam and Argentina. This insight led me to think that each one of us carries a good part of the world’s genetic diversity. In this way, our fingerprint, which identifies us as unique individuals, could be visualized as a symbol of this diversity.

City in the Village

By: Ismail Odetoia

Lagos, Nigeria

Artist Statement

In most rural places, being young or a woman usually puts you at a disadvantage in terms of education and economic opportunities. Rural youth face these specific challenges. They are often under-employed or employed in low productivity sectors. This portrait imagines how technology and education can penetrate and improve the world’s most forgotten places. It’s a vision of a world where human capital is complemented and most people from rural areas won’t need to migrate to the city in search of a better life.

Diversity Teams Work Better

By: William Scott Jackson
University of Hertfordshire

Hatfield, United Kingdom

Artist Statement

In theory, organizations must treat everyone equally when recruiting; but it is still the case that hidden, sometimes even unconscious, stereotypes heavily influence who we hire. This tends to make organizations and teams homogenous — and lacking the huge benefits of diverse perspectives.

Sick

By: Anna W.
Suncoast Polytechnical High School

Sarasota, Florida

Artist Statement

An invisible illness is a disability that isn’t immediately apparent. These include such chronic illnesses as diabetes, sleep disorders, chronic pain, and visual and auditory impairments. Through my piece, I wanted to communicate the mental stress that having an invisible illness can put on someone, due to the many ignorant responses that they receive. I’ve lived my whole life with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (an invisible chronic pain disorder) and have been told, “It’s all in your head!” or “You’re lucky! I wish I had a handicapped parking tag,” more times than I can count. Because I look “normal,” I get mean looks when I step out of my car, park in a handicapped spot, or stand up from my wheelchair. Although it may take time, I believe that we need to educate ourselves about invisible illnesses and come together to support those that may be affected in our community and around the world.

United Colors

By: Patricia Kluwe Derderian

Clearwater, Florida

Artist Statement

I draw the subjects of my paintings freely and loosely; I let my feelings guide me while I add color, without any commitment to reality. My figures have no color, genre or face. What is important is their presence and energy. I painted these people using only the feet as symbols of our external differences. These distinctions may or may not represent what others think they do.

Unconditional Love

By: Patricia Beltran

Weston, Florida

Artist Statement

This piece represents the unconditional love that parents and caregivers give to an autistic person who could be a child or an adult. The blue baby swan represents not only the blue color symbolizing autism, but also celebrates uniqueness and the acceptance of differences. As the mom of an autistic child, I painted this with my heart. I am happy to transmit my own feelings of unconditional love and to share the important message of autism awareness with others. In this particular piece, I painted the surroundings in monochromatic values to distinguish the baby swan as the center of attention. The different textures, accomplished by the use of a palette knife, created dimension and a sense of movement. The heavy strokes of my palette knife techniques stand in contrast to the lightness of the white swan’s feathers.

Stand in My Shoes

By: Wayne Ramirez

Venice, Florida

Artist Statement

My painting illustrates a young Black girl wearing the iconic “Mary Jane” shoes with bobby socks. From 1904 to the present, these shoes have been traditionally advertised as dress shoes for little white girls. The painting’s subliminal message is: “My shoes and socks are like yours and I am like you.” Having a Black child wearing the shoes and socks makes her a universal symbol representing all young girls and the challenges they face from iconic commercial stereotypes created by the white-dominated advertising world. Manufacturers have only recently begun to acknowledge their role in perpetuating institutionalized racism in advertising. At first glance, “Stand in My Shoes” may seem to be just a realistic painting. But take a second glance and consider who is standing in them.

Sezer’s Diary

By: Leyla Emektar

Erdek, Turkey

Artist Statement

The boy in the photograph is my student; his name is Sezer. Sezer was born in 2012 with spina bifida. He has had six operations in eight years. With the help of his parents, he can maintain many of his basic living activities, but Sezer is a smart, hardworking and determined child. He wants to play basketball in the Paralympics when he grows up. I hope he achieves everything he wants in his life and is very happy.

Treasures of Time

By: Aysha Shaikh

Smethwick, United Kingdom

Artist Statement

My art symbolizes the elderly in our society and reflects the inevitable stage in a human’s life cycle. The contrast in color (the people are black and white, while the jewelry is in color) expresses the idea that objects outlive the people who wear and use them. Each individual’s most prized possession is featured expressing the beauty of individuality. The woman in this piece is my grandmother. The map behind her shows her travels and her Pakistani sari shows her origins in contrast to the man’s clothing, which is an expression of western culture. Their weathered skin and rough wrinkles link with the map’s background revealing the treks these individuals embarked on during their youth. These two individuals represent the community of elderly people who often fear what the future may bring for them.

Journey to Self Love

By: Ella M.
Booker High School

Sarasota, Florida

Artist Statement

The phrase “I love myself” is one coated with terror and discomfort. In a society that profits off people (especially women) by picking apart all of their insecurities, engaging in acts of self-acceptance is an unspeakable rebellion. It shouldn’t be! We must wholeheartedly embrace ourselves before being able to unconditionally love all others. We must embrace our own differences, first and foremost. The journey begins there!