We’ve gone numb to statistics. Statistics on the number of poor. Statistics on the number of struggling. Statistics on the number of hungry. They’re all just numbers.

Art has the incredible power of opening our eyes to what the numbers mean, said Shannon Lincoln, a graduate assistant for the Center for Leadership and Service and the coordinator of “Portraits of Poverty and Wealth: Beyond Statistics.”

From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Feb. 24, the Civic Media Center will host this art show to to raise awareness of poverty by presenting the issue from a creative perspective.

“You see all of the statistics and stories on the news,” Lincoln said. “But it doesn’t translate.”

The pieces that will be exhibited at the CMC were originally collected for an event sponsored by the University of Florida’s Center for Leadership and Service and Multicultural & Diversity Affairs on Jan. 31.

Nearly 100 people attended the event at UF, which exhibited the work of students and community members. The pieces included oil paintings, photographs, sketches and sculptures, as well as a presentation of narratives and poems on poverty.

All of the writers and artists were invited to present their pieces at the upcoming show at the CMC.

With the recent recession, poverty is a more relevant issue than it has been in decades, said Jack Donovan, an executive director at the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has brought poverty to the forefront of political and public concern, he said.

Lincoln said the relevancy of poverty is one of the reasons the Center for Leadership and Service chose the problem as its social justice issue this year.

This event was part of the center’s series that showcased the reality of poverty. It also marked the end of the Multicultural & Diversity Affairs’ annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, said Jarrod Cruz, the director of the office.

“Our goal is to put on events relevant to his values and beliefs,” Cruz said.

One of King’s missions was to reach out to those in need.

Recognizing King’s legacy encourages individuals to reflect on their own goals and think about how they can make a difference, he said.

“Overall the most important thing to ask yourself is what mark you’ll leave,” Cruz said.

Lincoln said she hopes the artistic method of “Portraits of Poverty and Wealth: Beyond Statistics” will bring the idea of poverty closer to the public and will inspire them to try to make a difference in the community.

She said, “Sometimes the creative arts can pack more of a punch.”

Check out some of the artwork that will be on display at the Civic Media Center this Friday, Feb. 24 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

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