Art piece: a reminder that diversity is “a work in progress”

Though a mosaic of purple, green, orange, blue and black acrylic paints has dried, a collaborative artwork installed in the lobby of the Duke Office of Information Technology’s administrative offices serves as a reminder that working to foster diversity is not not finished.

About 40 members of the Duke community cheered on Aug. 29 as an art blanket came down to reveal a colorful 4-by-6-foot logo for DiversifyIT representing unity in IT. DiversifyITa community led by staff working to raise awareness and support of all identities in computing at Duke, organized the project, and the art will be located on the first floor of the Power House Building on Fuller Street in Durham.

“I call this mural ‘A Work in Progress’ because I thought knowledge, connection and connection are far from over,” said J. Brandon Johnson, IT analyst at Academic Media Services and Chairman of the DiversifyIT Communications Committee. “The threads that divide us continue to be present and the challenges we face in overcoming them are as complicated as they are insidiously pervasive. Now that this torch that exemplified our empathy is lit, it will enlighten and inspire all who will witness it.

Johnson created the original DiversifyIT digital logo using Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in 2020. Approximately 53 Duke IT professionals contributed to the paint project, which depicts the silhouettes of a variety of people representing the diversity in computing.Attendees at the DiversifyIT unveiling gathered to see A Work In Progress come to life after 53 Duke IT professionals contributed to the work.  Photo taken by Jack Frederick.

Johnson pitched the idea for the art to the DiversifyIT leadership team last year with the goal of building community. It was organized to emulate the fun of making childhood art as children, which Johnson called the “purest form of connection.”

“DiversifyIT is where the IT professionals at Duke let us all get to work,” said Laura Webb, co-president of DiversifyIT and project manager at OIT. “Creating this art exhibit together has shown us another way people want to come together to have conversations that allow us to learn how to do that. There’s no one right way to find those connections. , but what matters is putting all of our individual ‘pieces’ together – seeing each piece, making space for each piece, valuing each piece.”

At in-person events, attendees were encouraged to pick up a paintbrush and add their own creativity to the work, even if just for a few minutes, while chatting and spending time in community with colleagues.

The August 29 installation ceremony brought together community members from across campus, including Vice President and Chief Information Officer Tracy Futhey and Executive Vice President Daniel Ennis.After the ceremony, artist and project manager J. Brandon Johnson, left, spoke with Executive Vice President Daniel Ennis about community service.  Photo taken by Jack Frederick.

Futhey and Ennis each mentioned being struck by the DiversityIT group’s dedication to helping support diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.

“DiversifyIT is just one spectacular organic effort to help build community and create a sense of belonging for anyone from any background, from any background,” Ennis said. “It’s just a huge additional impact, and if I could take what they generated and all the energy and momentum and goodwill they generated and replicate that in other departments, I would. would do in a heartbeat.”

Computing is a field historically dominated by white men. According zippia, 25% of technology jobs in the United States are held by women; Black Americans hold 7% of jobs in America’s tech sector.

The work of DiversifyIT, which has 337 members at Duke, improves the inclusivity and visibility of diversity in IT on campus. Art will be a symbol of diversity and their work.After the artwork was unveiled, attendees took a closer look at it on the left side of the Power House lobby.  Photo taken by Jack Frederick.

“When I first heard about DiversiftyIT, I thought it was a great way to start a conversation,” said Adam To, senior cloud security engineer at OIT. “A conversation can help create new awareness, understanding and perspective, leading to collaboration and change. This mural represents the beginning of that conversation.

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