Artist from Connecticut Wins “People’s Choice Award” in the 2016 Embracing Our Differences’ Exhibit; Claudia Ramirez’s work, “Hate Tears Us Apart,” was voted best in show by exhibit goers. Ramirez received a $1,000 cash award

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Artist from Connecticut Wins “People’s Choice Award” in the 2016 Embracing Our Differences’ Exhibit

Claudia Ramirez‘s work, “Hate Tears Us Apart,” was voted best in show by exhibit goers. Ramirez received a $1,000 cash award.


(Sarasota, FL) “Hate Tears Us Apart,” Claudia Ramirez’s boldly graphic artwork, won visitors’ hearts and the “People’s Choice Award” at Embracing Our Differences’ 13th annual outdoor juried art exhibit celebrating diversity. Ramirez, who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, received a cash award of $1,000. Her exhibit banner was sponsored by Debbie and Larry Haspel.

In creating “Hate Tears Us Apart,” Ramirez says that she “wanted to create a piece that was type- and concept-driven because I enjoy the aesthetic beauty of words and letter forms.” She says that she believes, “hate is fueled by our own thoughts, beliefs and actions. It’s really up to us to eradicate it. I express that idea by using words of hate in the background. I also wanted to consider the environment in which the piece would be displayed, so I experimented with optical illusion.”

Sarah Wertheimer, associate executive director of Embracing Our Differences, says that the award is “especially meaningful because it’s determined by exhibit goers choosing the artwork that has moved and captivated them the most.”

For 13 years, “Embracing Our Differences” has drawn on the passion and perception of artists, children and others to create powerful statements of diversity and acceptance in its annual outdoor public art exhibition consisting of 45 billboard-sized works of art and accompanying quotes. The response to this year’s call for artwork and inspirational quotes resulted in 8,350 entries pouring in from 104 countries and 44 states. Students from 106 schools around the world submitted artwork or quotes to the juried exhibit; 40 of this year’s winners were students, and 38 of those were from local schools.

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. Aside from the annual outdoor exhibition, Embracing Our Differences’ ongoing educational outreach programs and initiatives include: 

  • Teacher workshops developed by nationally acclaimed educators to provide curricula and lesson plans relating to art appreciation, character building and diversity education. These include:
    • Mastering the Art of the Quote Workshops: This workshop is designed to take the difficult topics of diversity, prejudice and inclusion and teach students to express themselves through critical thinking and creative writing. Presented in partnership with Florida Studio Theatre, the workshop fulfills a critical need of providing teachers with creative resources to meet Florida’s Language Arts Standards.
    • Art Teacher Retreat: This two-day seminar, developed in partnership with Ringling College of Art and Design, is designed to reinvigorate educators’ teaching practices while offering new skills and strategies for inspiring students to explore the abstract concepts of prejudice, diversity and inclusion. Substitute teachers are provided for participating educators. In 2015, the 37 participating art teachers were collectively responsible for more than 12,000 students from Sarasota and Manatee counties.
    • Lesson Plans Workshops: Designed to deliver new and innovative methods of engaging students in critical thinking while creating the perfect environment for a rich discussion of the value of diversity and inclusion, all lesson plans identify the relevant curriculum standards, educational objectives, materials needed, activities, step-by-step instructional strategies and assessment guidelines.
    • Summer Diversity Institute (Bully Prevention in Schools): This three-day annual event provides information and support on bullying in our schools, in cyberspace, and in our community. The workshop offers support and structures for educators to use with students in their classrooms and on the school campus. Participants work individually and in small groups based upon grade level, as well as school location, to create lesson plans and action plans that will be used within each school to provide support to both students and faculty as they encounter incidents. More than 85 Sarasota school guidance counselors, psychologists and sociologists participated in a recent condensed version of the workshop, organized out of popular demand by area school administrators.
  • The “Make-a-Day-of-It!” program, providing free bus transportation for area students and teachers to the outdoor exhibit and to other cultural venues, including Florida Studio Theatre, Mote Marine Laboratory, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, The Ringling, Sarasota Film Festival, and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. 13,320 students participated during the 2015 school year.
  • Coexistence Clubs, via partnerships with Riverview, Booker and North Port high schools, provide student-led docent tours of the annual exhibit. Student docent tours were provided to 7,706 K-8 children visiting the 2015 exhibits. There are approximately 115 student docents.

For more information about this exhibit or Embracing Our Differences, please call 941-404-5710 or visit


About Embracing Our Differences

Embracing Our Differences is a local non-profit that began in 2004. The organization showcases a community-based outdoor exhibit promoting positive, inspirational artistic and verbal expressions of inclusion, acceptance and respect. The mission of Embracing Our Differences is to use the transformational power of the arts to educate and inspire to create a better world. For more information, visit


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