by Downtown Improvement District of Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne, Ind. – In an effort to continue the crucial community conversation around social justice made so visible this summer in Downtown Fort Wayne, Art This Way and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art have partnered to create the Social Justice Advocacy Award for the 2021 regional Scholastic Awards. Congratulations to both the Art Award winner, Alyvia Luong, and the Writing Award winner, Chris Diwis.
In May of 2020, plywood was used to cover broken windows in Downtown Fort Wayne. Art This Way, a program of the Downtown Improvement District, organized and sponsored a public call for local artists to use these temporary installations as an artistic “canvas”. With the permission of building owners, artists began to paint images and messages of hope, love, inclusion, and resilience around the themes of social justice. After removal from the buildings, these plywood paint-outs were preserved and assembled into the collection titled Conversations. Students in the region were given the artistic challenge of using the Conversations collection as inspiration for their pieces.
From the entries of many talented young artist and writers, Alyvia Luong and Chris Diwis were chosen as winners of the Downtown Fort Wayne & Art This Way Social Justice Advocacy Awards. Alyvia’s photo, Chinese Virus, and the written piece, The Void of Black Men: A Response to Brent Staples’ Black Men and Public Space by Chris Diwis, are both currently featured at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in their “2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards” exhibit that can be viewed until April 10, 2021.
Alyvia says, “At the beginning of the pandemic, there was an uptick in anti-Asian American sentiment. I am born and raised in Fort Wayne, and it angered me to have people look at me and then move away from me for being Asian. This was so heavily linked to the idea that Asians are responsible for the coronavirus. Since then, statistics show that violence against Asian Americans in the United States has increased dramatically. This piece was emotional for me and based on passion and anger. It’s what motivates my work.”
“At age 17, my work is based on wanting to make a change in the world.” Chris says, “My motivation for writing this was in response to Brent Staples; he was a mentor for me. I am born and raised here in Fort Wayne, and there are many places that I feel safe and comfortable, like my school and the gym. There are other times when I am the only person in the room that looks like me, and sometimes I feel anxiety because of that. I was so inspired by a teacher at Canterbury that shared a personal, vulnerable story about his life. It inspired me to tell my own story as a black man. Because of his vulnerability, I had the courage to share and write this.”
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art (FWMoA) is an Affiliate Partner of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which celebrates the art and writing talents of students in grades 7-12. “The Scholastic Awards have always provided a platform for teens to make their voices heard, and, recognizing the important societal roles artists and writers of all ages play during times of change, that has never been more important than after this past historic year. We’re so grateful to Downtown Fort Wayne and Art This Way for giving additional recognition for these powerful works by students looking to effect positive change through their creative work,” said Alyssa Dumire, Director of Children’s Education at the FWMoA.
Downtown Fort Wayne and Art This Way would like to thank all the students, teachers, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art for keeping the Conversations moving forward in Fort Wayne.