Geneva, 10 December 2018 – Nine young, creative artists from Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, Iran, Portugal, Thailand and the United States have won the top prizes in the “Kids for Human Rights” international drawing competition, launched earlier this year by the United Nations and the Gabarron Foundation.
Organized by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, the Gabarron Foundation and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the contest celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights generated more than 17,000 entries from children from all continents who put pencils and colours to paper to express their visions of human rights and personal commitment to defending them.
Highly artistic drawings of American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, of Canadian business woman and civil rights defender Viola Desmond, and of India’s independence leader Mahatma Gandhi won first, second and third prizes in the category asking children to draw pictures of human rights defenders they admired.
Winners were declared in three categories.
In the category “A human right I feel strongly must be defended”, the winners are:
Madie Crawshaw, 14, from Sydney, Australia, wins first prize for her picture of a young woman whose mouth is shut by two strips of tape. The words “We are silenced for our different beliefs or opinions, when it is a human right” complete the picture. The jury called this drawing “very powerful” for effectively reflecting a reality where young people are often silenced by discrimination. “The drawing triggers its audience’s inner human rights defender to stop this ongoing suppression and exclusion of young people,” the jury said.
Addison Wright, 12, from Sherman Oaks, California, USA, wins second prize for her picture showing four raised fists, representing different races and backgrounds, leading a row of placards calling for women’s rights, fair wages and the protection of black lives. Completing the picture are the words: “With liberty and justice for some… But why not all?” The jury said this drawing powerfully conveyed a real sense of outrage at the injustices of discrimination and inequality, communicating a call to action against these injustices. “It implicates us all in the work needed to defend us all, the guarantees of article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” the jury added.
João Marques, 13, from Cascais, Portugal, wins third prize for his picture of two figures, one crouching, seeking protecting from a reddish “rain”, while another, more defined character is protected by an umbrella displacing a rainfall of colours to the sides. “At first glance this picture may look simple, but its message is far from simple,” said the jury. “It is a powerful image of two figures: one powerful and safe, the other insecure. It carries a strong message about inequality and its approach is clear and forceful,” said the jury.
In the category “A human rights defender I admire”, the winners are:
Adebola Adewale, 14, from Villa Rica, Georgia, USA, wins first prize for her picture of poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. The jury said: “Through a very realistic portrait – presented in a pose expressing personal experience – combined with vigorous statements of oppression and rights on the figure’s turban and shoulder, this drawing captures this human rights defender’s strength and mirrors it to resonate with the audience calling out to stand up and defend everyone's human rights.”
Margaret Kuts, 12, from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, wins second prize for her picture of civil rights activist and business woman Viola Desmond, who challenged segregation at a cinema in 1946. The jury said the drawing’s cleanliness and technique was like that of pop art, giving it an effective poster quality. “It is condensed and direct, with something of a film announcement. Portraying both sadness and hope, it combines many sensations that move and invite to action,” said the jury.
Barad Memar Kermani, 10, from Tehran, Iran, wins third prize for his picture of Gandhi, the leader of India’s independence movement. “A simple idea that gives full meaning to the individual. The lines are simple yet powerful at the same time. The colours are harmonious and reflect those one identifies with India,” said the jury.
In the category “How I can defend or promote human rights”, the winners are:
Saied Muhamma Saleh, 12, from Dhaka, Bangladesh, wins first prize for his picture of people protesting against human trafficking and calling for the right to move freely, to vote, to education. The jury said the drawing was evocative of some of the greatest challenges being faced today, including migratory movements and undaunted human trafficking. “This drawing appeals to our consciences with a cry of despair. We must hear it. Leaders sometimes seem deaf to this cry, but we cannot remain insensitive,” said the jury.
Prima Rungruang, 12, from Bangkok, Thailand, wins second prize for her highly colourful and beautifully built picture full of expressive characters, with a central figure sustaining a world full of children who embody and claim various human rights. “The hands that hold the figure, the sphere with children and the light from behind make it look like a wish tree,” said the jury, adding that “the range of colours and shades make this work an example of children’s art transmitting ideals.”
Macarena Diaz, 10, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, wins third prize for her picture showing a page on the Internet that encourages visitors to support human rights by sharing, commenting or recommending different types of posts, videos or games. The jury said: “This drawing synthesizes, quite effectively, several messages to reach all people. Esthetically, the drawing is figurative, but its concept is surprising for a 10-year-old girl. By creating an online platform to spread messages about human rights, she is clearly showing what she can do to promote and defend human rights.”
Another 61 pictures receive honourable mentions. The full list of 70 pictures and winners, recalling the 70th anniversary being celebrated, is available here.
Congratulating all children who submitted entries to the contest, the international jury* said it was highly impressed by the quality of the works received, adding that the drawings were “a pure testimony” of how children perceived human rights, sometimes revealing injustices seen through the eyes of children that may sometimes not correspond to the view of adults.
Winners’ creations will become part of the art collection of one of the first museums in the world dedicated to children’s art, set up by the Gabarrón Foundation. Headquartered in Valladolid, Spain, the Queen Sofia Children’s Art Museum houses a collection of some 50,000 artworks produced by children all over the world. A branch will open in Shanghai, China, in 2019.
An exhibition of the children’s winning artwork opened at the United Nations in Geneva, at the Palais des Nations, on 10 December, while another will open at Kanal Centre Pompidou in Brussels on 19 December. Both will also showcase artwork created by artist Cristóbal Gabarrón and inspired by the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
*The international jury was presided by internationally known Spanish artist Cristóbal Gabarrón and included Hani Abbas, a Syrian-Palestinian cartoonist who won the 2014 Editorial Cartoon International Prize awarded by Cartooning for Peace, Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Susanna Griso, Spanish journalist and television presenter, Jenna Ortega, a young American actress, Tomas Paredes, President of the Spanish chapter of the International Association of Art Critics, and Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth.
Rhéal LeBlanc, United Nations Information Service Geneva
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Laurent Sauveur, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
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Marta Vaquero, Gabarron Foundation
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