Fall 2016 Inequality Art Contest


The Center for Ethics and Human Values' 2016-17 COMPAS Program on Inequality is pleased to announce the winners of its fall art photo contest!

Moral concern with inequality is about far more than economic inequality. It is also about political, legal, educational, and health inequalities and how these interact with each other. And it’s about how these inequalities connect with underlying issues of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ status, geography, and other factors. These different dimensions of inequality are often difficult to appreciate, especially when we do not experience them firsthand. An artwork can change this. An artwork can force us to confront the significance of inequalities we often overlook. Submissions were evaluated both for artistic merit and for how they explored issues related to the COMPAS theme. 

Grand Prize


Avery McGrail, ”This is not normal” 

”This is not normal” - Avery McGrail - square     ”This is not normal” - Avery McGrail - wide shot

This is a handmade accordion book made in light of the recent 2016 election. I took inspiration from a special that comedian John Oliver did prior to the election on This Week Tonight, and the internet movement to speak out against the "#notnormal" behavior of president-elect Donald Trump. I want to try and urge people not to stay quiet during these next four years and instead continue to fight for equality.


Awards of Excellence


Virgil Clark, "Wealth Redistribution"

Wealth Redistribution - Virgil Clark - Front     Wealth Redistribution - Virgil Clark - Back

This artwork is a pair of digital prints displayed back to back. It meant to highlight how dramatic income inequality is in our society.

Vincent Cohen, "Where The Head Lies"

Where The Head Lies - Cohen, Vincent - Front

Where The Head Lies - Cohen, Vincent - Side

This elegant, one story cardboard beauty offers an inviting, custom accented entry featuring a charming garden gnome and renovated welcome mat. No detail was left unconsidered in the gorgeous entryway, opening onto the spacious master suite. 
A newly installed roof covers this exquisite, portable one bedroom, no bath home which has the additional benefit of being located within walking distance of wherever it's placed. Nicely updated removable newspapers allow transformation of the opulent master suite into a large formal living area great for family fun.
Relax in unique out door living spaces as wind chimes and a Victorian looking globe lend a sophisticated character to this one of a kind property. An exceptionally beautiful home that promises to add curb appeal to any lush manicured lawn on which it resides.

Merle Vaessin, "Income Altitudes"

Income Altitudes - Vaessin, Merle - Side     Income Altitudes - Vaessin, Merle - Top

A 3d topographical map of central Ohio, with the altitudes of the different census areas raised and lowered to match the average household income for that area. Wood of frame made from old grown pine, from a house owned by the Marion family, who helped build the economy in the state of Ohio.



Awards of Distinction


Carmen Allen, "The Scales of 'Justice'"

The Scales of "Justice" - Allen, Carmen

A mobile made of chains and wire supporting various pods that represent the inequality of incarceration amongst various races.


Julia Barrett, "Anxiety Attack #2"

"Anxiety Attack #2" - Barrett, Julia

This piece is part of a series which deals with having anxiety. Each piece has a specific anxiety. 
For this one I am showing the anxiety women have with how they are viewed in the eyes of society. It questions what women need to look like--clothed/veiled-- in order to fit into society? It expresses the fears we have to hide on a daily basis.
It shows how our bodies are controlled by things out of our own control. It says when we try to speak out--they muffle us. When we try to run away--they trap us. When we try to breathe...they suffocate us.

Maggie Barrie, "The Black Mother"

The Black Mother - Barrie, Maggie

The black mother My piece focuses on the topic of racial inequality and it's deep-rooted presence in America. 
The piece is meant to be transcendental in the way that is not tied to just this era of racial inequality but also the era of slavery, two similar but very different times. It was inspired by my mother who was born in Africa but has lived in America for the past 20 years. 
During this time she has given birth to three girls and one boy. With this one boy she has feared his experience growing up in a country where being a black male can be a very dangerous thing. My piece reflects this, the women I sculpted is ebony to represent the black mother and her ever present reality of being different. 
The black is rich and intense and contrasted against a pure white background to signify how being black in America doesn't go without notice and how it stands bold in a country where 63% of its citizens are caucasians. When you see the piece you will notice that she is pregnant. Within her stomach is the black child that she fears will grow up in a society that is judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character (Martin Luther King, I Had A Dream Speech).
Furthermore, this piece has two parts, aesthetic (the sculpture and African cloth) and then interactive and technological. The second part is that whoever observes the piece can actually go inside the stomach of the sculpture and pull virtual reality googles from her womb, to represent the poignant but violent symbolism of society taking the child from her, much how mass incarnation and gun violence takes the children of many black mothers. Next, the person is to place the virtual reality goggles on and they are transported into the womb of the mother, where they will experience animations that depict the struggle of the black mother and her children in America.

 Sarah Bowe, "Society in Time"

Society in Time - Bowe, Sarah

When my professor said that this contest was on inequality, I knew immediately that I wanted to do gender inequality. I wanted my work to illustrate the gender roles of women that we have created as a society, and where they are now vs. where I want them to be in the future. 
The lingerie model is in the forefront, with makeup, a cheerleader, and a pregnant women directly behind her. This is supposed to signify the roles that I believe society still places women in. The graduation cap, briefcase, the word "equal", and the bars of equal height are supposed to represent the transition that I wish to see in society: a transition of more education, respect, and equality. Finally, the business woman at her desk is supposed to represent what I hope to see as a future role of women. The woman is furthest from the viewer, signifying that we must move toward her.
In addition, I included the quotes "You can't be what you can't see" to signify the role the media has in forming the roles of women in society, and "Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed" to signify that these gender roles have been created out of society.

Elizabeth Dang, "Water is Life"

Water is Life - Dang, Elizabeth

The North Dakota Access Pipeline has been a very controversial and unconstitutional event where history repeats itself in its wrongful treatment of Native Americans and peaceful protestors. Water cannons and tear gas were a few weapons that were used. Peacocks symbolize dignity and beauty and a headdress is used instead of the feathers.


AdaObinna Ijomah, "Inabata"

Inabata - Ijomah, AdaObinna

This piece reflects the African culture which is part of my identity. Inabata means "accept" in igbo. I decided to do a study of figures that exaggerate certain features of the body.
One particular focus was the facial features that is emphasized. Features such as the nose and lips which gives reference to the stereotypical features that are known for classifying people not only of African descent, but people of color in general. Which is normally a noticeable feature in our society reflecting its beauty.
My piece is about me taking those qualities and embracing the physical features and background of what society view, and in hope that one sees beyond the external but focus on the internal beauty of a person.

Lexis Vanhecke, "1 in 3"


This is a digitally altered drawing of mine which represents the outrageous fact that 1 in 3 African American males will go to jail at least once in their lifetime.