“It takes more courage to speak in a silent room than to become another voice in a crowd.” 

This is one of 50 inspirational quotations that is showcased at Embracing Our Differences’ 20th annual outdoor art exhibit celebrating diversity and inclusion. The exhibit opens in Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota on January 18, and the public is invited to a family-friendly celebration of our 20th anniversary on January 22 in Bayfront Park, noon to 3 p.m. The event features live performances by Jah Movement, West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, and spoken word poets. Local arts and education organizations will have booths featuring interactive, kid-friendly activities. And there’s plenty of food and beverage! Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen, Big Blue Grilled Cheese, Kilik's Kitchen, and Krewe Du Sno-Ball trucks will be stationed at the event and will be donating a portion of proceeds back to EOD. In addition, the EOD team will recognize the artists and quoters who had their works selected for display as well as honoring the Best-in-Show award winners.

And while you’re there, check out this year’s stunning exhibit of 50 billboard-sized images created by local, national and international artists, writers and students reflecting their interpretations of the theme “enriching lives through diversity and inclusion.”

2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the exhibit. Sarah Wertheimer, EOD’s executive director, explains that EOD’s 20th anniversary theme is “Embracing Kindness,” and the organization is planning several special events to celebrate the anniversary, including exhibiting at two new venues in addition to Bayfront Park: Butler Park in North Port and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota in Bradenton.

Awards for artwork are given for “Best-in-Show Adult,” “Best-in-Show Student,” and “People’s Choice” categories, with the last chosen by visitors to the exhibit. Adult art winners each receive $2,000; students receive $2,000, which they split with their school’s art program. Awards are also given for inspirational quotations. Adult quotation winners each receive $2,000; students receive $2,000, which they split with their school’s English program.


The Best-in-Show Adult winner for art is “We Are All Pearls” by Whittney de Araújo, of Recife, Brazil. In it, eight women, seen from behind, sit on a bench in a museum staring at a wall with eight different paintings of a woman. The artist says she used the painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” by Johannes Vermeer as a reference for the eight paintings in her work. As the viewer looks more deeply, we see the paintings reflect the diversity in color, size, physical ability, style and ethnicity of the women on the bench.

 Alexis Lee, a 10th grade student at the Icon Art Academy in Irvine, CA., won the Best-in-Show Student award for her work, “Stretching Beauty,” which depicts a thin ballerina who sees herself as much larger in the mirror. “Body dysmorphia is something so many people go through as they try to reach the extremely demanding beauty standards of society, which usually leads to eating disorders,” says Lee.


The award for the Best-in-Show Adult inspirational quotation was given to Alexis Morrell of Wolcott, Connecticut for: “It takes more courage to speak in a silent room than to become another voice in a crowd.”

The award for the Best-in-Show Student inspirational quotation was given to Hartley Livesey, a fifth grade student at The Out-of-Door Academy for “Always remember you are braver than you think and stronger than you believe.” Hartley’s teacher is Mrs. Gulacsy.

Embracing Our Differences’ annual outdoor exhibits are the heart of a year-round program of activities designed to use art as a catalyst to create awareness and promote diversity.

For more information about Embracing Our Differences, call 941-404-5710 or visit www.embracingourdifferences.org.


A Quick Glance at Embracing Our Differences’ 20th Anniversary Schedule and Celebrations

Sarasota Exhibit (Bayfront Park):

  • Opens: 1/18/2023
  • Last Day: 3/12/2023

North Port Exhibit (Butler Park):

  • Opens: 3/22/2023
  • Last Day: 4/19/2023

Bradenton Exhibit (State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota):

  • Opens: 4/26/2023
  • Last Day: 5/29/2023