Ana DiVito '17 won the grand prize in the Catholic Campaign for Human Development's 2016 Multimedia Arts Contest, hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Her winning piece, "Neighbors," is composed of several images of faces with diverse expressions.
"I used charcoal to carry their unique expressions and then added fictional texts below each image," DiVito explains. "Each text was representative of intimate details that one would not know simply by looking at the faces, but would know if they took an interest and got to know each person."
In this way, the piece is a commentary about what DiVito believes to be the root of poverty—indifference.
"It was not about directly confronting poverty," she says. "It was about directly confronting indifference."
As part of her award, DiVito was flown to San Jose, California, to speak to over 3,000 attendees at the National Conference for Catholic Youth Ministry about the significance of her winning piece and her message to other young people about fighting poverty in their communities.
An excerpt from her speech:
The variety of faces in my mural demonstrates the diverse population that poverty affects...My mural invites us to be engaged in the lives of people in poverty. Poverty is a system built on prejudice and indifference. People living in poverty are our neighbors. To break this cycle of poverty we must come to recognize each other...My mural invites us to step into their reality for a brief moment.
Doing charitable works helps us to recognize that we are responsible for each other. Social justice helps us to recognize that we are capable of changing the unjust systems underlying poverty. Young people much know that our actions can have a serious impact, that we have a strong voice. In this era of social media, our music, art and our words can reach around the world. We need to realize just how empowered we are, not just to call attention to injustice, but to affect systematic change through our words, images and actions.
"As I left the auditorium," DiVito says, "I was hugged by several nuns. I felt like a superstar when Catholic youth ministers wanted to take their picture with me.”
DiVito also spent two days manning the booth for the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development. "They provide information and educational tools for youth ministers through the 'Two Feet of Love in Action' campaign," DiVito explains.
In addition to her attendance at the conference in San Jose , DiVito received $500 toward tuition for a course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago—she chose to take a water-based painting course. In addition, DiVito earned $500 to a charity of her choosing and designated it toward the Dominican Center for Women. Loyola Academy also received $500 toward its art department.