One World, One Heart 

Image: Anna Zigel

Coming in January, jaw-dropping art pieces will once more be displayed on huge billboards across Bayfront Park. The Embracing Our Differences exhibit's theme of compassion that extends beyond borders or language barriers doesn't necessarily feature critically acclaimed names. In fact, many of the artists at the international exhibit, which will run Jan. 19 through March 15, are students. 

Currently in its 16th year, the juried art exhibit received a record-breaking amount of submissions totaling over 11,000 entries from more than a hundred countries across the world. Exhibit entry is open to both adults and students, with separate "Best in Show" awards to each. The students receive $1,000, which is split with that student's art program at their school. 

“It’s not enough to have something to say," executive director of Embracing Our Differences Sarah Wertheimer says. "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.”

The 2019 winners include Anna Wright, a seventh-grade student at Johnson Middle School in Bradenton, as well as Seth Morano, a 12th-grade student at Booker High School, for his inspirational quote. Both students will receive $500, with an additional $500 to go to their school's art program. 

"We all come from different backgrounds, yet we can be friends," Wright says. "We have different beliefs, but we have things in common. I want to embrace that and show that we are all different, but we can unite to make a better world.”

United in a Quest for Knowledge 

Image: Anna Wright

"Once again, thousands of people used the power of art and language to celebrate the values of diversity, inclusion and respect,” Wertheimer says.“The art selection team was deeply impressed by the candor and artistic quality of their work.” 

 For more about Embracing Our Differences, visit embracingourdifferences.org.