ArtPrize is such a large platform that I definitely knew I wanted my art to convey a message, and an important one. It started with a trip around the world. I lived in Europe, Asia and Africa for almost three years and when I came home I was a different person; I had a new perspective on life. A lot of what I saw was beautiful and some of it was harsh, but the overwhelming message was that we are all the same beneath the surface. We have different lifestyles, different cultures, different religions, but we are all human beings. We need to understand that we are all just a small part of a larger whole and we need to learn to live together peacefully. That’s why at the heart of my art piece there is the message of “Coexist”. It blends together different religious symbols and those of peace and love. The rest of the photographs show different religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism) and different lifestyles (nomadic, rural, urban). I included a photograph of Grand Rapids to show that we too need to be a part in spreading this important message of world peace and tolerance, we can’t simply let others do the work for us. So if you are able, please come to Grand Rapids and check out all the art in this year’s ArtPrize. Each piece is a work of love and labor by the artists and knowing that people are seeing their art and hearing their message is an absolutely amazing experience. You can see my piece, “Coexistence”, at the Ottawa Tavern along with a lot of other great artists.