One Heart – Diversity Public Art Project

The intent of this public art installation is to give the local community and visitors an opportunity to reflect on the city’s path to inclusivity while enjoying one of Sarasota’s most beautiful greenspaces. It will be a visual representation of the importance of diversity and inclusion to the ethical, economic, and cultural well-being of Sarasota and its citizens.

The mission of the Diversity Public Art Project is to create an iconic artwork installation for Sarasota’s Bayfront Park, representing our city’s aspiration and commitment to equality, inclusion, and diversity.

Unifying Through Art
Art is a great equalizer. Two people can view the same sculpture, at the same time, in the same light, and feel vastly different emotions. Hope, despair, validation, confusion, elation, euphoria, inspiration, anger, joy, sadness, confidence, fairness, beauty, bleakness, something, nothing, anything. Art makes us think and feel. What each of us experiences is different—different from each other, and maybe even different from the way we felt just the day before.

The act of experiencing provocative art at once unifies us and lets us be unique. It allows us to honor difficult feelings and feel the elation of positive emotions. That is what the Diversity Public Art Project will bring to Sarasota.

Next Steps
The Diversity Public Art Project committee is committed to seeing this important project through to installation and introduction to the community. Once the installation is complete, the city of Sarasota will officially take ownership of this artistic public display and will manage its upkeep for as long as the piece resides in Bayfront Park.

The artwork will be an outdoor environmental project of sculptural expression that may incorporate the landscape. Possible media include but are not limited to architectural glass, architectural metal and stone/ceramics/mosaics, decorative paving, landscape and water, experiential, and sculpture. The finished piece will be compatible with salt air and direct sun, and be able to withstand hurricane conditions.
It is recognition of the work yet to be done and in celebration of successes already accomplished that inspired the creation of the One Heart Diversity Public Art Project.

What is Needed to Bring the Art to Life
This important work that will result in an iconic public art installation that celebrates The City of Sarasota’s path to inclusivity is well on its way to coming to life.

It Has
• A dedicated committee led by former City Commissioner Ken Shelin
• A sponsor organization, The Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County
• The commitment of the city of Sarasota to partner throughout the project and manage the art’s physical home into the future
• Input and resources from the talented students at Ringling College of Art and Design

It Will Soon Have
The talented artist, selected from the final six, who will create this visual celebration of diversity and inclusivity in Sarasota. The top six artists are Cliff Garten, Chakaia Booker, May Sun, Simon Donovan, Jon Hair, and Martin Dawe. They all will travel to Sarasota to learn about its diverse cultural environment, so they may better understand the community for which they would be creating this important piece of public art.


Cost of the artwork itself

Project administration & contingencies

Concept development, travel, and lodging for final panel of artists

Transportation of Art & Installation

5-year maintenance endowment for the city of Sarasota’s upkeep of the work






Total: $500,000

Meet the Committee

(Left to Right) Sheila McKoy, Project Manager, Chelsea Garner-Ferris, Ringling College of Art and Design, Nancy Roucher, Arts Educator, Dan Boxser, Co-founder, Boxser Diversity Initiative, Ken Shelin, Project Founder, Kate Alexander, Florida Studio Theatre Associate Director, Honorable Karimu Hill-Harvey, Retired New Jersey Judge and Dr. James Stewart, Professor Emeritus, Penn State University
Not photographed: Honorable Charles Williams, Judge 12th Circuit Court and Sarah Wertheimer, CEO, Embracing Our Differences
Ken Shelin Project Founder
Former City Commissioner and Vice-Mayor, LGBTQ Activist
Nancy Roucher Arts Educator
Board Member of Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County
Sheila McKoy Project Manager
Retired New Jersey Transit Art Program

Committee Photography by Nicholas Ferris /