Students from the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences recently participated in an art competition focused on building Zion at BYU through diversity and inclusion. These pieces, done in a variety of mediums, communicate the students’ feelings on fostering a loving environment where all feel welcome.
During February, the library will host a physical gallery of the artwork in the Atrium Gallery. All are welcome to visit. We also compiled the art into a virtual gallery for everyone to enjoy.
(Photos by Alyssa Dahneke of BYU photo)
1st Place: Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise
“My piece depicts a gathering of priesthood holders for the naming and blessing of a newborn girl. Each priesthood holder is meant to represent a different community, society, or culture. For some of these figures I had a personal, real-life inspiration to guide me in my creation. My daughter was the original inspiration for this chalk design. She inspires me daily to recognize the good around me and try new things as she does the same. While my daughter is caucasian, I wanted to depict the little girl in this artwork as ethically ambiguous as I could. I want her to symbolize the future generations that have the opportunity to be a part of Zion by creating unity and spreading love to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else that differentiates people.”
2nd Place: Character, Attributes, and Faithfulness
“Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, ‘Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens.’ My piece is a black and white landscape of BYU campus, just outside of the Harold B. Lee Library, populated by colorful silhouettes of students that leave trails of color along their way. This is meant to portray that the character, attributes, and faithfulness of each person is unique and as they interact with and uplift each other, the colors blend together to make a new, more beautiful atmosphere that will lay a positive foundation for those who follow them.”
3rd Place: Your Fight is My Fight
“I was inspired by the many diverse people at the Black Lives Matter protests. It seemed to me that all the people there understood why they were there. They wrote what they believed on their cardboard signs and marched. They knew in their heart why Black Lives Matter, and were fighting for them. I believed Black Lives Matter but did not know why, and did not understand my place in all of this. I did not know what my core message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement was, but as I looked around I found my message in everybody else’s message: Your fight is my fight.”
Dean’s Honorable Mention: Oh How We Need Each Other
Kayla Beck Nuss
“With the news of George Floyd and other POC victims coming into many people’s conversations from this past summer, I was inspired to create this piece. This painting is supposed to reflect the courage and strength of the people who have spoken out and shared their experiences with underlying racism that still exists in our world today. We need them. We need each other to support and uplift.”
Honorable Mention: Zion Under Her Nails
“I was inspired by our community’s need for racial diversity to create Zion. When I was a freshman, a professor once talked about living our lives like we “had Zion under our fingernails.” It has been a motto for me as I’ve made life decisions—I want to be on my knees, elbow-deep in the work.”
Honorable Mention: Garden
“I have always viewed flowers as a symbol of beauty and growth. In my artwork, I attempted to convey the beauty that can come from joining hands with individuals of all cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Each hand has something unique to contribute that adds to the colorful garden of flowers.”
Honorable Mention: A Day in the Life
“This was taken in a tiny town outside of Mexico City. I remember seeing this man going about his day, most likely doing his work to provide for his family and thinking, ‘Wow, he does this everyday?’ I immediately was overcome with so much respect for him.”
Honorable Mention: Grafting
“This painting is inspired by the parable of the tame and wild olive trees in Jacob Chapter 5, in which the Lord of the vineyard saves his dying olive trees by crafting in wild branches. In our society today, “grafting” means sharing diverse opinions, ideas, and talents to strengthen those around us and foster inclusion, mutual understanding, and faith.
Honorable Mention: Their Trauma Remains
“I wanted to depict the intergenerational trauma of black women. Enslaved black women went through intense physical, sexual, and emotional trauma. That trauma did not die when they did—it passed to their posterity. I wanted to paint something that depicted that chain. Even though it wasn’t the present woman’s personal trauma, it’s still hers—passed to her by their ancestors.”
“I want it to represent all kinds of people with no real distinction because in the end, whatever it is of the many things that make us different, we are all children of God and can be united in love if we choose to be. Red and white roses often symbolize unity, and the color blue is also expressive of unity, so I made sure to incorporate them into my piece. I also added intertwined ropes for the same symbolism. We are all part of this world and the community of humanity. May we treat each other with respect is my hope.”
Honorable Mention: My Brother
Forecasting a Conversation and Seeing Only Storms Ahead, for the Past Has Given Little Reason to Expect Otherwise
Preston Makoto Hunter
Look to the Son
As I thought about what Zion meant to me, I realized that Zion is really another word to describe Jesus Christ. The person who created us so individually clearly not only appreciates diversity but needs it in this world. So vice versa, diversity is necessary to build a Zion community. I wanted to show how different cultures and people all over the world are all united through Christ.
Despite our differences, as we come together with others in our communities and throughout the world, we will discover a greater whole in store. Growing to accept people regardless of culture, origin, and background will enable us to purify our hearts and create a greater Zion community.
Do Unto Others
“I wanted to create a modern icon showing the divine nature of Black women. Basing her pose on traditional Orthodox icons, I hoped to convey a sense of dignity and strength, as well as a spiritual power I’ve felt from BIPOC friends. I hope we can all become the disciples Christ needs us to be by actively pursuing anti-racist actions and narratives and doing unto others as we would have done to us!”
“I recently had the realization that every skin tone that exists across the planet earth can be found in the many colors of dirt, sand, and rock across this same planet, our home. It feels beautiful to me that something so natural as the color of our skin—no matter the color—is represented in the earth. After all, what could be more natural than the substance upon which we stand, walk, and exist?”
A Change of Heart
“This piece is inspired by the concept of having a changed heart because of the influence of God. when we are truly touched by God and changed, we see others with more charity, and we have a desire to help them no matter the differences we may have with each other. Our perspective towards people becomes more Christlike. To me, the importance of diversity is that it offers us a chance to apply the concept of charity in a variety of different ways, because each person that we encounter is so unique.”
Broken Hands United
“If we are to have the unity of a Zion community, we need to put in a concerted effort to address the pains of the past. It is critical to realize that we can’t keep using bandaids to conceal the centuries of hurt that have been inflicted by racism. In recognizing that truth, we can begin to work towards a brighter future as we stitch together our broken hearts and hands in unity.”
Unique Rules and Important Contributions
Visit the exhibit this month in the HBLL Atrium Gallery and visit the BYUnity website for more information on the college’s Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion initiatives.