Students build ‘Zion community’ through diversity, collaboration and inclusion art contest

This piece titled “Let Zion in her Beauty Rise” by Katy Ogden took first place in the first annual Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Art Contest. Ogden said she took inspiration from the diversity she saw while growing up in Washington, D.C. and from her young daughter. (Allison McArthur)

Lita Little Giddins started struggling to figure out how to improve the art displayed within the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences when she joined the school’s new Committee for Diversity, Collaboration and inclusion in January 2020.

The college’s mission was to establish a Zion community, but she said the art in the halls did not reflect Zion or a diverse community.

Giddins said the solution to came to her while she was praying.

It took several months before the idea came to her during prayer: a student art competition. Student art could replace the outdated pieces.

“Oh my gosh, their voices, their vision — this is how we can move forward,” she said. “It’s about hearing their voices and combining their vision with ours.”

Giddins and the committee put out calls for art in Fall Semester 2020. They displayed the submissions on the first-floor atrium of the Harold B. Lee Library on Feb. 1, where they will remain until the semester ends in April. The theme of the contest matches the theme of the college: to establish a Zion community.

“It is by the students; it is their testimony,” Giddins said. “It is their vision of what Zion means to them.”

The students who participated used a variety of mediums, including chalk, paint, photographs and embroidery floss.

Katy Ogden, a family studies senior, said she took inspiration from several sources: her husband’s mixed-Polynesian heritage, their daughter and the diversity she saw while growing up in the Washington, D.C. area. Her chalk drawing took first place and shows men of different cultural backgrounds giving a baby girl a priesthood blessing.

“The cool thing about the Church and priesthood holders is they can come from any background,” she said. “They can bring their culture and experiences to the table. Holding the power of God is not meant for one type of person.”

This collage entitled “Your Fight is My Fight” by Nicholas Rex took third place in the DCI art contest. Rex made it out of photographs he had taken while attending the Portland Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. (Allison McArthur)

Nicholas Rex, a sociology sophomore, took photos at Black Lives Matter protests over the summer and arranged them into a collage titled “Your Fight is My Fight” that took third place in the contest.

“I tried to make the main focus of the piece a Latina who’s holding a sign that says ‘your fight is my fight,’” he said. “Seeing that girl — that’s when it hit me. She is here because she realizes that her sisters and brothers’ fight is her fight as well.”

Rex said he hopes to show the positivity and unity that was at the core of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The committee decided on contest winners by looking at and talking about the submissions together. Giddins said it chose a first, second and third place winner and let College of Family, Home and Social Sciences Dean Ben Ogles choose a Dean’s Honorable Mention.

“They were all good; they were all a different person’s perspective,” Rex said.

Every submission is on display, and Giddins said she loves what the students came up with. She and the committee intend to continue the contest next year.

After several more contests, they will fill the halls with art from students, she said. This will begin on the ninth floor of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower, where the FHSS dean’s office is housed.

“This is a display of art, but also a display of purpose, a display of meaning, a display of testimony,” she said.

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