Embracing Our Differences Will Stage 2024 Exhibitions in Sarasota and St. Petersburg and Reveals Winners

Learn more about the 2024 winners here!

By: Dec. 07, 2023
Embracing Our Differences Will Stage 2024 Exhibitions in Sarasota and St. Petersburg and Reveals Winners
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For the first time in 21 years, Embracing Our Differences (EOD) will be displaying its international outdoor exhibit in St. Petersburg as part of its 2024 exhibition season. Sarah Wertheimer, EOD’s executive director, explains that, in 2003, the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg partnered with the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem, Israel, to present “Coexistence,” an exhibit of 35 billboard-sized works of art and accompanying words of inspiration that promoted the concept of “coexistence.” In 2004, Sarasota arts advocates Dottie and Bob Garner, Helen and Roy McBean, and Graci and Dennis McGillicuddy co-chaired the first “Coexistence” exhibit in Sarasota. “The rest is history,” says Wertheimer, explaining that Embracing Our Differences was formed as its own nonprofit organization in 2004 through the efforts of Dennis McGillicuddy, Carroll Buchanan and Michael Shelton

“We’re thrilled to come full circle,” says Wertheimer. “Exhibiting in St. Pete has been on our wish list for the last few years and to see it come to fruition is a dream come true. We are grateful to the City of St. Petersburg, The Warehouse Arts District Association, the Florida Holocaust Museum, and many dedicated individuals who have helped us make this happen.” 

Werthimer says that this year’s response to the call for artwork and inspirational quotations was strong with 16,604 entries pouring in from 125 countries and 44 states. Students from 584 schools around the world submitted artwork or quotations to the juried exhibit. 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 original quotations. Adult quotation winners each receive $2,000; students receive $2,000, which they split with their school’s English Language Arts program. 


The Best-in-Show Adult artwork award went to Samantha Dennis from Woodbridge, Canada, for “’Hand”le with Care,” which shows hands of different colors and abilities gently cradling colorful beams of light that are shaped as a heart. 

The Best-in-Show Student artwork went to Sylvia Tirado, an 11th grader at Wycombe Abbey (school) in High Wycombe, United Kingdom, for her work, “Are My Roots Showing?” which depicts a young woman of color examining her dyed blond hair for signs of her true hair color, which is dark. 

The Best-in-Show Adult quotation award is “I stand against hatred with love, prejudice with acceptance, and ignorance with knowledge,” submitted by Md. Faisal Arefin from Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

The Best-in-Show Student quotation award is “Spread kindness like the world depends on it...because it does,” submitted by Jessie Ochsendorf, a 7th grader at Pine View School in Osprey. Her teacher is Susy Grandusky.

While EOD is best known for its annual art exhibitions, its educational initiatives continue all year long. These include professional development opportunities for educators, reading days, unity days, and other learning programs and events. “These ongoing arts education programs represent the most important aspect of our efforts,” says Wertheimer. “We’re reaching and impacting the lives of thousands of students and teachers, both locally and around the world.” She adds these programs have made an impact on more than 587,000 students since they were launched in 2004. 58,122 students and 1,981 teachers participated in the 2022-2023 school year alone.

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