A visual representation of the most culturally significant sport on the planet
Growing up, I didn't come from a family that one would consider to be very worldly. While My parents taught me to respect everyone and always be a good person, the only cultures I was surrounded by were my Italian family, as well as my family who lived on the Santa Clara Pueblo reservation, in New Mexico. Right around my tenth birthday I decided that I had developed a love for soccer to the point where I wanted to solely focus on it as a sport. I started playing travel soccer and was introduced to so many new people outside of my own home town. Forming bonds with my new teammates allowed me to get to know them on a deeper level, and because of this, I learned not just about them, but their families as well as their cultures. Many of my friends shared the struggles that their families went through, a lot of them having to do with coming here to seek asylum from their own countries. I learned about experiences that I would've never even imagined being put through. A good friend who I still talk with to this day discusses how before he left Sierra Leone, soccer was one of the best parts about his life, and he was grateful that he was able to keep it as part of his identity after moving to the US. The beautiful thing about this sport to me is that it is a universal language. Regardless of what religion you practice, what language you speak, or where you're from, it has the power to connect people in such a meaningful way. I am extremely grateful that soccer has given me the opportunity to meet so many people, and to see how it has truly expanded my view of the world. As I continue my life I will always hold on to the lessons that I have learned about understanding other people's experiences, and I will continue to preach about the love I have for this sport, which has taught me so much. When painting this piece, I wanted there to be little confusion behind the message I was trying to deliver. When I was little I had a soccer ball that looked just like a globe and I would love playing with it because it was so unique. This gave me inspiration to piece together the physical as well as the metaphorical relation between the two different spheres. I am by no means a professional painter and it is hard to relate to some of the struggles that so many people go through everyday as refugees, but I hope that my design and love for the sport is able to connect with others out there and bring us all together.