Global Conversation 2020

This exhibition celebrates the United Nations UN75 Anniversary theme of creating the largest ‘Global Conversation’ ever and hits a variety of tones exploring critical issues such as plastic waste, deforestation, capitalism, pandemics, refugee displacement, police brutality, and our disconnection from nature through the lens of 16 unique artists from around the world. The artwork in this exhibition further illustrates the urgent need to respond to global issues and engage in uncomfortable conversations that can hopefully lead to practical solutions via national policy action or better, neighborhood policy action.

Looking to Decide 1 (2020) by Stella StoneThe United Nations

Global Conversation: What does it mean to you?

To build upon this concept of a global conversation, we ask you, the viewer, to have a conversation about the universal challenges faced by our world today, and in this conversation, call deeply on your courage to respond with the active participation necessary to ‘build the future we all want’; a vision of the United Nations. Acknowledging our perceptions and vulnerabilities, particularly in how we communicate with people, plays a major role in whether we widen the net of engagement surrounding global issues and how we will engage with others across national borders. We encourage everyone to envision a better future through conversation, thinking locally and globally about your role in helping create a more equitable world. Keeping an open mind to having a conversation is the most important thing we can do to create global solutions.

Looking to decide tryptic (2020) by Stella StoneThe United Nations

This tryptic by Artist and Curator Stella Stone is a visual response to our global experience. Her use of contrasting images creates a debate, to question and inquire about our participatory action.

Plastic Seas, Rising Tides #6 (2019) by Susan Hoffman FishmanThe United Nations

This painting portrays waves made from one-use plastic bags responsible for the growing mountains of plastic in our lives and in our seas that are caused by climate change.

The images of a grandfather clock, a tank and a baby doll allude to the limited amount of time available to mitigate the events damaging the environment we are leaving our children.

Black Grouper (2015) by Sarah SchneidermanThe United Nations

Sarah Schneiderman, an Ecological Artist uses these materials as her medium to make realistic imagery out of garbage we humans generate.

Atlantic Spadefish (2015) by Sarah SchneidermanThe United Nations

Where does all the trash go?

As part of her "More Garbage than Fish" series, Sarah Schneiderman turns the trash she finds on beaches around the world into art. This 'Atlantic Spadefish' piece represents the fish whose very well-being is being threatened by plastic pollution, ocean acidification, and rising sea temperatures. Trash is everywhere and this assemblage is made of construction paper, buttons, plastic forks, medication packets, elastic, fabric, credit cards, and plastic on board. 

Sailfin Blenny (2015) by Sarah SchneidermanThe United Nations

This fish-shaped assemblage is made of feathers, lace, bottle caps, duct tape, beads, buttons, rope, thread, plastic, seeds, and raffia on wood.

Point of Sale (2020) by Chris CombsThe United Nations

Do you need a bag?

Artist and Technologist Chris Combs uses a vintage VFD screen from a cash register, also known as a “point-of-sale” or POS system to address themes of environmental devastation, consumerism, and pandemic hoarding. In 'Point of Sale' the use of a cash register, something we're used to seeing almost daily, is used to display a poignant message that we probably never think about when we're packing our plastic bags at the store, with our plastic wrapped necessities inside. 

Point of Sale (2020) by Chris CombsThe United Nations

So, do you need a bag?

Collectively, we must reduce the burden on future generations or face the frightening realization our children's children will have at checkout.

Blind participation all adds up in the end.

Sold Conscience (2019) by Kalejaye O. TosinThe United Nations

Kalejaye O. Tosin creates life on paper with his photo-realistic portraits.

This young black woman draws on the colonizing of black female bodies within patriarchal capitalism.

His work is largely based on story telling, historical documentation and creating deep connections through photo-realism, working mostly with graphite and charcoal pencils.

Self Acclaimed (2019) by Kalejaye O. TosinThe United Nations

This photorealist drawing asks for a kind of quiet that leads to justice for Breonna Taylor and count-less other victims of police brutality.

What do you see when you close your eyes?

Kalejaye O. Tosin, a Nigerian self-taught artist, wants you to close your eyes and imagine a better world not only for humanity but also for yourself. This realistic portrait drawing titled 'Self-Acclaimed' illustrates the importance of listening to children's voices and asks the viewer to choose peace, universal harmony and global cooperation in helping awaken the consciousness of others. Tosin's portrait further intends to instill a feeling of peace that children have nothing to fear and can silence this fear by  encouraging a shift in the nature of ongoing conversations about what we can do to create a better world. We can start by meeting our commitment to placing our children and young people at the centre of the conversation. Listening to their ideas and emotions. Shouldn't a 'Global Conversation' include our children?

Isolation and Disconnection from Nature 2 (2008) by Elisa PritzkerThe United Nations

Are you isolated?

Elisa Pritzker's “Isolation & Disconnection From Nature 2” is a piece from her environmental series that has been featured in the Biennial Bellevue Sculpture Exhibition, and creates intrigue with a tiny human figure and plastic tree enclosed in their own individual plastic cases to reveal her conviction of a partial or total separation between humans and nature. Viewers are invited and encouraged to think about this disconnection. To think about nature, and their relationship to it while coming to terms with our involvement in mankind's isolation state. In many situations, we blindly forget our interconnectedness to planet earth and the effort we must give towards a conscious process of becoming connected with the natural world.

Isolation and Disconnection from Nature 1 (2008) by Elisa PritzkerThe United Nations

Another depiction from 'Isolation and Disconnection from Nature'.

Three isolated and disconnected subjects in their own individual cases.

Dimensions (2020) by Pecut SumantriThe United Nations

Pecut Sumatri is talking directly about us humans. We who are wearing the mask, transforming nature into buildings, getting older and finding more excuses for why we collectively refuse to change.

Meating (2014) by Jeramy TurneyThe United Nations

‘The Meating’

Jeramy Turner’s paintings are about history, society, power and the abuse of power. In her painting, ‘The Meating’ we see exposed bare-naked, a deadened world, polluted and destroyed beyond comprehension by perpetrators of catastrophe and madness who shirk in fear of their potential public image online. The vultures spotlight a symbolic gesture about the beginnings of the decaying process for America, about the horrors inflicted on this earth by American imperialism and other ruling nations. 

Simultaneously, 'The Meating' is about capitalism and the need to transform that which appears immutable before we're left with the remains of dead meat and bones.

Bitcoin II by Andrea Plaza (Anplac)The United Nations

'Bitcoin II'

Ceramist, painter, fashion designer, and business entrepreneur Andrea Plaza, better known as Anplac, uses the combination of acrylic and watercolor to an argent moon, taking you out of the box and face to face with this Bitcoin symbol. Thinking in the currency of the past and the currency of the future, 'Bitcoin II' asks what has value today in the context of capitalism? What is our relationship to money? How do we use it? How long shall we earn it? What is the currency of the future? Where is the money? In a world that is getting more and more virtual, money becomes virtual too.

Council of the Gods by Jeramy TurnerThe United Nations

‘Council of the Gods’

This new daring and surreal work by Jeramy Turner made during the early stages of the Corona Pandemic, represents the notion of backward pharmaceutical companies and the reform they oppose. While we see jolly commercials of a happy family on TV, in the background, Jeramy Turner sees a new miracle drug being experimented on animals with unknown deformities. One might believe the intention of Big Pharma is to make our lives immediately better but money-making capitalists are only concerned about one thing; the price they don’t tell you about.

Artist Jeramy Turner takes us behind the curtain with 'Council of the Gods' and exposes as vividly as one can the underside of power, in a surrealistic depiction of pharmaceutical capitalism.

Shock I (2020) by Fu WenjunThe United Nations

In the face of COVID-19, we have entire stores dedicated to selling masks. Some domestic and foreign car manufacturers have even switched to producing face masks, are we in a state of shock?

Shock II (2020) by Fu WenjunThe United Nations

‘Shock II'

Through this series, Fu Wenjun, a Chinese contemporary artist who created Digital Pictorial Photography in the early 21st century, proposes many questions and perspectives with ‘Shock I, II and III’. Taking the mask on as a form of submission or fetishized commodity, Fu Wenjun arouses people’s awareness of this by bringing the viewer closer, to think deeper about this indispensable necessity and how it has changed the world over. 

Shock III (2020) by Fu WenjunThe United Nations

From a healthcare perspective, the mask has been a matter of life and death. From another perspective, Fu Wenjun makes a clear and rational critique of how the world will recover from the shock.

Non-childish Games? (2018) by Guvanchmyrat HojaniyazovThe United Nations

'Non-Childish Games'

Artist Guvanchmyrat Hojaniyazov (born 1972 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) expresses a calm lyrical composition with hidden playful anagrams to highlight the absurdity and locality of the theme, meaning, and plot behind his 2018 work titled “Non Childish Games”. Guvanchmyrat’s work sends a  message that no matter the age, the corporate nationality or beach sand we live near, it still applies in the real world that childhood is fleeting. The monochrome undertone of the background draws more attention to the child but creates this contrast between the sandbox, where life is vibrant and a digital tech world, where life is colorless.

The digital world turns the real world into monochrome. Children play non-childish games?

I'm Here by Claudia Nki ZamberiaThe United Nations

'I'm Here'

In this mixed media on board painting, we're invited to share the emotional capacity found in the soul-stirring eyes of this immigrant child. Claudia Nki Zamberia, a 27 year old artist from Kenya currently living in Florence, Italy, lends her voice to narratives that go unsaid, exploring the immigration crisis, social contexts, and the nature of our psyche through many of her paintings.

With pencil, acrylic, foam and plastic, Claudia Nki Zamberia frames this tragic realization of an immigrant child being left alone on a lifeboat somewhere in the middle of the immigration crisis.

Bad Painting number 74 Refugees washed up dead on a beach. (2018) by Jay RechsteinierThe United Nations

'Bad Painting number 74 - Refugees washed up dead on a beach.'

Jay Rechsteiner, an internationally-distinguished multi-disciplinary artist from Basel, Switzerland has been executing a series of paintings in his Bad Painting style, channelling his deep emotional response to the most inhumane issues he finds in his research. ‘Dead on a Beach’ is a jarring visual of a group of refugees washed up dead on the beach, something we rarely see or hear about in the news, yet drowned migrants are being washed up along coastlines such as in the Mediterranean Sea.

The UrgeThe United Nations

In this video, we dive deeper into Jay Rechsteiner's practice and how he creates the Bad Paintings.

Bad Painting number 98 - Israeli forces are beating up Palestinians (2018) by Jay RechsteinierThe United Nations

An unfair round of violence and savage display by Israeli armed forces in the occupied West Bank.

Bad Painting 158 - Four police officers are killing a black man. Again (2020) by Jay RechsteinierThe United Nations

A Bad Painting representation of what happened in the final moments of George Floyd's life which sparked a wave of demonstrations against police brutality around the world.

The Ignoramus (2020) by Brigitte DietzThe United Nations

Why do you care?

Brigitte Dietz, an artist born and based in Heidelberg, Germany paints to explore the paradox of human beings living in communities they do not represent yet freely discuss. This painting titled ‘The Ignoramus’ does not merely aim to transmit a statement, but challenges the observer to look deeper into why this child is pointing the finger at the POTUS. We must think courageously, as this artwork invites the viewer towards an uncomfortable conversation. 

Whether it is comfortable or not, we cannot overlook the act of this child pointing, nor the unaffected demeanor of President Donald Trump.

Depending on how you respond to both, the observer might learn something new about themselves in their own reaction. This tension is a concept often found in Brigitte Dietz’s work.

Vortex of Meaning 4th (2020) by Philip Michael WolfsonThe United Nations

The Rise and Fall

In these confusing times, where our minds are screaming and our bodies spinning, we ask if you are you pulled in deeply, where the stars of the flag are falling inward or do you see it another way, where new stars are rising up and emerging from a crisis-filled world? Philip Michael Wolfson re-examines these forms and ideas of the early 20th century Modernist movements in his work the ‘Vortex of Meaning’, and through a variety of modules, particularly Constructivism and Futurism, he allows you to find your own meaning analyzing this two-way movement and geometric distortion of the American flag.

Within the context of a pandemic, this conceptual abstraction can be a swirling and gapping vortex of mixed emotions.

DISPOSED & EXPOSED (2020) by Sel KofigaThe United Nations


Multi-disciplinary artist Sel Kofiga is affectionately known as a Ghanaian residing in Accra. His work 'DISPOSED & EXPOSED' is a performative installation which attempts to talk about the undeniable comfortability attached to single-use plastic waste in his country of Ghana and around the world. This performance piece by Sel Kofiga illustrates clearly how today, we are capable of producing 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, which is nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. (UN, World Environment Day)

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