Students’ artwork throughout this exhibition has demonstrated their interest in learning about complex social issues, including the historical and current immigration topics addressed in Dear America, as well as their own experiences with racism, sexism, or other systemic forms of injustice. As they entered college amidst tumultuous global events, students like Hailey Dearborn and Alexandra put their learning into practice by participating in activism, represented in their digital artwork.
Alexandra explains that her artwork "represents the Black Lives Matter protests happening all over the world, based on continuous racism in America. I used a picture of my sister holding up the sign that says "Justice is not 2 much to ask for" and surrounded the picture with strong words and emojis that represent how people in America feel towards this ongoing issue." Similarly, Dearborn writes, "this photo is one that I took at a Black Lives Matter protest this summer and the quote states that "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." So, I decided to write "the power of love" in the colors of the pride flag to show just how much power we as a society can hold when we come together for peace, rather than for the love of power."
These artworks by Spencer Sorensen and Kaitlyn address the need for action related to climate change, another issue that has inspired recent activism. Sorensen stresses the importance of acknowledging the reality of climate change, writing, "Many people believe that climate change is not real even though there are many scientific studies that prove otherwise." In describing her drawing, Kaitlyn writes, "It is only a matter of time before our earth is no longer as beautiful as we know it now. With pollution and the practices that we are currently engaging in, we need to ask ourselves what we can do to save our world."
Harrison Oven’s collage represents the extreme challenges many people face in their daily lives. He offers a hopeful interpretation of his artwork, writing, "For so many people their world burning down is a reality. Like Jose Antonio Vargas, however, each of us has a power to choose what comes of it. We cannot change our environment merely by thinking it, but by refusing to simply give into the flame's destructive nature, we have the opportunity to stop it."
Abby’s drawing is an adaptation of an artwork by Keith Haring promoting AIDS awareness and activism. Abby writes, "This drawing is based off of Keith Haring's 1989 work, Ignorance=Fear. I wanted to change it to apply to America's current crisis with immigration showing that those in positions of privilege need to stand up for those who are alienated."
Haixin’s painting evokes hope for equality and a shared commitment to a better future. Haixin writes, "We are all born different, but we have never been higher or lower. This is a time, like the COVID-19 outbreak, when the importance of a global community of a shared future comes into play, when all of us face common challenges. This is a time when people of all colors, creeds and nationalities need to come together and work together."