Diverse Artistry Transcends International Borders to Bayfront

Visual Arts

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY FEB 12, 2019

Since 2004, Embracing Our Differences has used the power of art and prose to create awareness/promote the importance of human diversity. Its annual, juried outdoor art exhibition “Enriching Lives Through Diversity,” consists of 45 billboard-sized works of art, each accompanied by an inspirational quote and remains a highly-anticipated event to explore and enjoy for locals and visitors alike in Sarasota Bayfront Park, year in and year out.

As the 16th annual outdoor art exhibit continues to run now through March 15, Embracing Our Differences continues to celebrate this year’s global winners. Of the talented contenders, Anna Wright, a seventh-grade student at Johnson Middle School in Bradenton received the Best-in-Show Student for her painting “United in a Quest for Knowledge.” Seth Morano, a 12th-grade student at Booker High School won Best-in-Show Inspirational Quote with his quote, "Have the courage to stand up for what's right and have the wisdom to sit down and talk.” Winner Jie Lu will be in attendance at tonight’s reception, hailing all the way from Melbourne, Australia, along with Best-in-Show Adult Artwork winner Anna Zigel of Boyarka, Ukraine. Her colorful depiction of a rainbow of women represents cultural identity, while joining in feminine solidarity.

The artist says her intentions were to show that, “Every person on the planet has a loving heart. All people are beautiful in their own way, different on the outside and the same on the inside.”

The response to the call for artwork and quotes was record-breaking this go-around—with 11,791 entries pouring in from 111 countries and 44 states. Students from 239 schools around the world submitted to the juried exhibit, displaying a host of global creators rearing to make a reverential statement to battle the cynicism and bigotry that sometimes overshadow the beauty and togetherness of today’s world. “Once again, thousands of people used the power of art and language to celebrate the values of diversity, inclusion and respect,” says Sarah Wertheimer, executive director of EOD. “The art selection team was deeply impressed by the candor and artistic quality of their work.” Meanwhile, Wertheimer says, the statements accompanying each artwork are just as vital and thought-provoking. “Every quote provides insight into our common humanity—as well as the differences that make us all unique,” she says. “We’re moved by the heartfelt thought, creativity, wit and compassion the quotes represent.”

According to Wertheimer, the flood of submissions is proof that artists worldwide strongly believe that all people should feel safe and empowered to be their true selves. “We can’t create billboards for every heartfelt statement we receive,” she notes. “But it’s thrilling to see how many people share our core beliefs.” Wertheimer adds that submissions are judged by the truth and clarity of their core idea.

“What works is a blend of medium and message," she says. "It’s not enough to have something to say. Your message should engage the viewer when the art is blown up to billboard size. The best submissions work on many levels—they’re open to multiple interpretations and make you stop and think.”

Photo of Best-in-Show Adult Art winner, Anna Zigel's: "One World, One Heart".

For more information about this exhibit or Embracing Our Differences, call 941-404-5710 or visit here.

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