On January 14, junior Erin Callahan won the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art, Essay, and the Multimedia Contest sponsored by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
The competition was a state-wide contest for 6-12 grade students that recognized a piece of work from a student in each grade level.
“So [the contest] was all about Martin Luther King Jr., and he was all about equality and respect for all, not just African Americans,” Callahan said. “I didn’t want my focus to be singular, and I pulled from all kinds of discrimination.”
The contest is intended to encourage students to think more deeply about social issues and to reflect upon Dr. King’s life and legacy. It is designed to challenge students to think about how civil rights has affected their lives, and how they can work to keep moving forward toward justice and equality in the future. This year’s theme was “the journey is not complete.”
Callahan’s piece takes into account people of all races, creeds, and backgrounds, and expresses that the core of the issue surrounding inequality lies in love. “I wanted to show that everyone has some part of them that can be discriminated against or disrespected,” Callahan said. “The basis for everything should be love which is the one value that unites us all.”
Dr. King’s legacy is one that stresses love as the remedy for the division of humanity, which inspired Callahan’s work. “Erin’s work, represented in a simple illustration, links several social issues and points of discrimination with the element of love,” Art teacher Willy Corbett said. “Dr. King pointed to love as an important element to overcome discrimination 50 years ago.”
“Art reflects society and all that can be found in the hearts and minds of the people with various elements of society,” Corbett said. “Art styles, techniques…Approaches, medium, may have changed but the artist continues to express what they see and more importantly how they feel about things like faith and spiritual values, light and darkness in the world.”
Callahan will attend a reception in Columbus on Feb. 28 in honor of all of the winners.
“One can debate the meaning of an artwork, thus in doing so, the work of an artist is to bring awareness to what concerns him or her,” Corbett said.