In the face of recent protests, a Catholic art magazine has organized the Bakhita Prize for the Visual Arts to encourage artists to display the dignity of those affected by racial violence.
“Dappled Things is calling on visual artists to help us see more clearly: to help us honor and highlight the infinite worth inherent within each victim of racial violence,” reads a statement from the magazine.
“The shocking death of George Floyd has shaken not just the United States but the whole world, reminding us starkly of how far we still are from seeing each other's infinite dignity as children of God.”
The magazine “Dappled Things” has challenged artists to represent the human dignity and God-given worth of the victims of racial violence. The artists may use photography, painting, illustration, or sculpture.
The prize will pay $1000 to the winner and $250 to the runner-up. The two winning pieces of art, along with eight honorable mentions, will then be displayed in an illustration of “Dappled Things.” All winners will also receive a year’s subscription to the journal. The contest will end Aug. 31.
The prize is named after Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of Sudan and human trafficking. Born in 1869 in Sudan, she was captured around 1877 and sold into slavery by Arab slave traders.
“Saint Josephine Bakhita, after whom the prize is named, was a Sudanese slave brutalized by her captors, who later became a religious sister renowned for her joyfulness, gentleness, and charity,” the statement reads.
In 1883, Bahkita was sold to Callisto Legani, an Italian vice consul. After moving to Italy, she became the family’s nanny until the family left her with the Canossian Sisters in Venice when they traveled to Sudan for business. There, she became Catholic.
When the family returned, she refused to return to her life as a slave and instead joined the Canossian Sisters. Since slavery had been outlawed in Sudan prior to her birth, the Italian court ruled that she was not legally a slave.
During her time in the community, she assisted as a cook, seamstress, sacristan, and portress. She also helped prepare other young sisters for their missionary work in Africa.
The contest was issued after a May 25 video showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while in custody. Floyd could be heard saying “I can’t breathe” several times. He died soon after.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, cities across the U.S. have seen widespread protests against police brutality and racism. Some protests had turned into nights of rioting, and conflicts with police.
“If Floyd’s death has led to a great societal outcry, it is because he is only one among so many others who have lost their lives in similar circumstances. Like many others, we are asking ourselves questions of how to respond to violence and the violation of human dignity, including persistent racial violence that has been directed especially against the black community,” the statement reads.