Since 2004, Embracing Our Differences has used the power of art and prose to promote diversity. One way they accomplish this is through their annual international art exhibition in Sarasota’s Bayfront Park in Florida. The juried exhibit includes 50 billboard-size images measuring 16 feet (5m) wide by 12.5 feet (4min) high. Each work of art is created by local, national and international artists, reflecting their interpretation of the theme "enriching lives through diversity and inclusion" and accompanied by an inspirational quote.
The winning artwork combines a deep understanding of both medium and message. Awards are given for "Best-in-Show Adult," "Best-in-Show Student," and "People's Choice" categories, with the last decided by exhibit visitors. Adult winners receive $1,000 and students receive $1,000 directed to their school’s art program. The statements accompanying each artwork are also vital and provide insight into common humanity—as well as the differences that make us all unique. In 2021, 384,280 people visited the exhibition—bringing the total number of visitors to 3.7 million since 2004, in addition to 436,000 students via their education programs.
2022 Exhibit winning selections were chosen from 17,413 entries received from 123 countries around the world. The 2022 exhibit will be on display January 15 through April 10, 2022 at Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota, Florida, USA.
Malaysian high school student Naomi Luv Lee is no exception to the winners before her. Attending Oasis International School - Kuala Lumpur for the past few years, she spent most of her childhood living abroad and understands firsthand what multiculturalism looks like. Her unique life experiences and her love for creating digital illustrations served her well in her winning submission titled “We Are Born Equal”. Naomi graduates this year and plans to continue her creative pursuits at the university level. Her statement that accompanies the art is as follows:
“I believe that we should not discriminate against people for things that identify them and traits that they were born with, such as - skin color or discolor, disability, upbringing, body size, parents, and more. I personally have experience of being bullied for not being academically smart and it therefore pushed me to draw this art.
The symbols on the right side are the bullies that laugh and bully; the children on the left are those that portray all the traits I listed above. The lighting on the outcast children is a symbol that there is hope for them; they are in a place of purity with the colorful graffiti that stands for what they believe. We are all BORN EQUAL so why do we discriminate against each other?"
Click on the image to see Naomi's video submission.