As the lawyers at Hunton & Williams, LLP streamed out of their offices and into the break room-turned-art gallery, the noise level rose precipitously.
“This one is beautiful,” one of them said, gesturing at a colorful drawing of food dishes from around the world.
“These are all really creative,” said another, moving slowly from piece to piece.
The art covering the walls of the room was the product of 13 Dallas International School students, all of whom attempted to illustrate a concept related to diversity as part of a diversity and inclusion initiative hosted by the Dallas law firm. Jenna Barrois, the upper school art teacher, and two of her students, Emma Stringer and Chase Fitzpatrick, attended the exhibit.
“Diversity is a huge part of our school’s culture,” Barrois said in a short speech to the assembled audience. “This particular project was great because we have students from all over the world in these art classes.”
Each unique piece was made by students, some of whom had little experience as artists, stretching their creative abilities.
“The students were great,” Barrois said. “If they wanted to illustrate something ‘safe,’ I tried to push them a bit to go outside of their comfort zone.”
As part of the initiative, the firm had each employee submit a vote for which piece they liked best. The first and second place winners received a commemorative plaque and cash prize. Stringer won first place, with Fitzpatrick coming in second.
But the showcase wasn’t about winning. It was about enjoying art and, more importantly, recognizing diversity.
“We started the project by discussing the endless ways in which we are diverse,” Barrois said. “We celebrated our differences and tried to express them through art. It was a challenge, but it was fun.”