Embracing Our Differences Michigan is accepting art and quotation submissions for its 2023 exhibit.
The nonprofit organization is an art and educational program revolving around diversity, inclusion, and equity.
"Our hope is that the more people talk about [diversity], the more they can understand that while we are very different, we all have common goals, and we all have common hopes and aspirations in life," Nancy Margolis, Executive Director of Embracing Our Differences Michigan, said.
Margolis first witnessed an Embracing Our Differences exhibit in Sarasota, Florida. After viewing, she left with a want to bring the exhibit to Michigan; therefore, in 2021, she started convening with community members to make that a reality. A year later, Embracing Our Differences Michigan became a 501(c)(3). Its first three exhibits were unveiled in May of 2022, all on display until Sept. 30. They are located at Gallup Park and the Leslie Science & Nature Center in Ann Arbor, as well as at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti.
At each exhibit, many artworks are displayed on a 16' by 12' banner. Accompanying each artwork is a quotation that was submitted by a separate individual, unknowing of which art piece it could potentially be paired with if selected. The artwork and quotes currently on display were created by people of all ages from all over the world, with local artists having submitted 26 of the current art pieces.
Some of the current artwork presented revolves around concepts such as mental and physical handicaps, race, and education. When discussing what emotions previous artwork has brought up in others, Margolis referenced a photograph of a child playing a sport in a wheelchair.
"When I was giving a tour, a young mother said she's got to bring her daughter down here because her daughter is in a wheelchair, and she wants her daughter to realize that she, in fact, can live a normal life. I think there are many messages like that among the different billboards and among the different art," Margolis said.
The organization acknowledges that these messages have the chance to affect many individuals, including children, so free field trips to local classes are provided. The children take buses to the exhibits, where docents show the kids the artwork and quotations, explaining what the artists may have been trying to convey.
This past spring, Eastern Michigan University students were docents, helping students to contemplate the artworks, their meanings, and what emotions arose as a response.
The deadline for new art and quotation submissions for the 2023 Embracing Our Differences Michigan exhibit is Jan. 16, 2023. More information on possible themes to pursue and requirements, as well as instructions regarding the submission of art and quotations, can be found on the nonprofit organization's website.