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News . Feature Stories . Illustration student delivers for company's diversity-art challenge


May 23, 2018

Illustration student delivers for company's diversity-art challenge

Kyleen Johnsson ’19 designs winning entry in art competition

Illustration student Kyleen Johnsson with her winning entry in art competition

Kyleen Johnsson with "The Diversity Thread: America's Fabric and Foundation."

The Stars and Stripes are one symbol of the United States. A melting pot is another. CIA student Kyleen Johnsson ’19 brought those ideas together when she designed the winning entry in an art competition sponsored by an Ohio-based executive talent search firm.

The result is a digital painting that will be printed and disseminated to human resources professionals nationwide.

“I do a lot of search work for major corporations and educational institutions, and almost every search I'm involved in involves diversity,” said Larry S. Imely, CEO of Lawrence Stephen Partners. “They want to make certain that they have a slate that represents the population that they're serving.”

Imely’s longtime interest in art sparked an idea: Commission a diversity-themed artwork to share with other professionals. Lawrence Stephen Partners will send prints of the work, “The Diversity Thread: America's Fabric and Foundation," to its clients and to talent recruiters at companies and colleges. Prints also will be available through the company’s website at a nominal cost.

Imely worked with Illustration Department chair Jeff Harter and faculty member Kelsey Cretcher, who assigned the project to junior illustration students. Johnsson’s piece was selected for the final commission.

The intention is to promote the importance of diversity and immigration to the United States, both in building the country as it has and in shaping it for our collective future, Imely said.

Johnsson, who is from Louisville, Kentucky, pulled from her family roots for inspiration.

“My grandmother and my father are from Finland,” Johnsson says. “They emigrated here when he was younger. She was a single mother, so she was just thrown into the workplace. And she ended up working as a nurse. But when she was a girl, she would make tapestries. And we have one in our house.

“My family is an immigrant family, and so it struck home with me, especially with the state our country is in right now, of just how important that is, and the basis of our country is around immigration,” she adds. “I wanted to almost pay tribute to [my grandmother].“

Grafton Nunes, CIA’s President + CEO, heralded the project. “This is a wonderful partnership in celebration of our shared values,” Nunes said. “We are proud to work with Lawrence Stephen Partners on a project that reinforces that idea that we are all better when we embrace our differences.”

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