Eric Appelquist’s work, “If We All Held Hands,” was voted “People’s Choice Award” by visitors to the exhibit. The artist received a $2,000 cash award.
(April 24, 2023) “In my work we see two children facing into the future,” says Eric Appelquist from Moline, Illinois, whose artwork, “If We All Held Hands,” won the People’s Choice award at Embracing Our Differences’ 2023 outdoor exhibition celebrating kindness, respect, and inclusion at Sarasota’s Bayfront Park and North Port’s Butler Park. “They’re trying to understand what their future holds for them. In the center of the work, it’s bright and inviting and a beautiful place to be that’s welcoming and inclusive. Outside the center, it’s less bright and they envision things that are not as beautiful and that make them uneasy. So, perhaps they would like us to hold hands with them and provide some comfort as they take their journey into the future.” Appelquist received a $2,000 cash award for his work. In honor of its 20th anniversary, EOD doubled the cash prize this year.
Sarah Wertheimer, executive director of Embracing Our Differences, says that the People’s Choice award is determined by a survey that was available to the 320,616 visitors who attended this year’s Bayfront Park and Butler Park exhibits, January 18 through April 19.
“This work beautifully conveys a powerful sense of empathy and solidarity,” says Wertheimer. “It’s a sense of instant recognition—that sometimes it just takes holding a hand to offer comfort. The artist’s statement includes this deeply poignant message: ‘We can’t forget the things that make us so uniquely human. We are endowed with a great power to ease the suffering of others through the simplest human expressions. Use these wonderful gifts every day.’”
For 20 years, Embracing Our Differences has drawn on the passion and perception of artists, students, writers and others to create powerful statements of diversity and acceptance in its annual outdoor public art exhibition consisting of 50 billboard-sized works of art and accompanying quotes. The scale and impact of this outdoor exhibition has continued to grow, attracting more than four million visitors since its inception. This exhibit is 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, call 941-404-5710 or visit www.embracingourdifferences.org.
About Embracing Our Differences
Embracing Our Differences is a nonprofit organization that uses the transformational power of art and education to celebrate and promote the diversity of the human family. It accomplishes this through an annual, large-scale outdoor juried art exhibition and a comprehensive series of educational initiatives, programs and resources designed for teachers and students. Visit www.embracingourdifferences.org.