Art Competition Winners
The results of our first international art competition for World MS Day are in! Over 200 entries from 54 different countries were submitted, tribute to the talent and creativity of the global MS community. Open to all people living with and affected by MS, participants used different mediums to express experiences of MS and the connections that matter most. Alongside each piece, artists shared powerful stories about the meaning of their work, and how it links to the theme ‘connections. ’
The judging panel worked together to consider each entry and choose 10 finalists and 3 winners. Made up of artists affected by MS, the judging panel includes Lydia Emily Archibald from the US, Giovanna Gil Alves from Uruguay, and Amaia Vicente from Spain. Now on World MS Day 2023, we are pleased to announce the winners and finalists of this year’s competition!
Explore the 3D gallery of winning and shortlisted pieces using your keypad. You can click on each pieces to learn more. To open the gallery in a new tab click here: 3D Gallery for Winners and Finalists .
You can read the stories behind the pieces by scrolling down the page!
‘Painting’ by Doaa Mahdi from Iraq
Paint on canvas
This piece is dedicated to those affected by MS across Iraq. Doaa the artist aims to raise the morale of people with MS, spreading optimism, motivation and hope. The judging panel loved the contrast between human tissue and blossoms in the creation of this striking portrait. The tension between beautiful flora, and the surreal exposure of the human brain made this powerful piece a winner.
‘Equilibrio Conectados’ by Estefania Bautista Brocal from Spain
Oil on canvas
Estefania created this painting to share her experience of balance problems because of MS. She invites the viewer to imagine what it would be like to feel off balance every day.
Estefania Bautista Brocal
‘I wanted to express my biggest weakness, balance, and how I feel every minute of my day to day.’
‘I want the viewer to imagine stepping on to that balance board alone, and staying on it forever. To try to understand the emotion, the psychological exhaustion, and strength this would take. Now if the spectator could imagine someone grabbing their hand to help them balance. It doesn’t take away the hard work, but it gives you space to breathe, notice those around you, and help you feel alive and yourself.’
The incorporation of the wave is a nod to the logo of the artists MS organisation, the Asociación Murciana de Esclerosis Múltiple (AMDEM). Estefania says that AMDEM help provide her with tools to be able and want to pull herself up again.
‘My quality of life is not based on having balance, in truth it is based on not being afraid of falling.’
The judges liked the playful quality of this piece combined with the message of unity, and understanding.
‘Nevertheless Blooming’ by Betsy Gill from the United States
Created on Adobe Illustrator
The competition theme sparked the creation of this incredible illustration from Betsy, a graphic designer from the US.
‘When I read the theme was “Connections” I immediately thought about my nervous system and the disruptions in the connections from my brain to my nerves, especially in my left leg.’
‘I immediately had a vision of my nervous system with blooms of flowers growing from my nerves.’
‘To make this come to life I researched a variety of images from the nervous system, human anatomy and countless flowers.
I try to exhibit to the outside world that I’m strong and resilient. I work to stay connected to my goal of not giving up on my body; growing mentally and physically every day. The flowers growing from the vines that are my nerves represent that growth. The bees are there to represent others helping me reach my goals and to show my connection to the community.’
The panel were very impressed by the technique used to create this illustration and the strong connection to the theme.
You can see more of Betsy’s designs here and @betsygilldesigns on Facebook and Instagram
‘MS Heart – 1000 knotted and connected ropes’ by MS Day Center’ at Multiple Sclérose Luxembourg from Luxembourg.
Materials: Wood, nails, rope.
This sculpture is a symbol of community, with many hands working together to develop this piece at the MS Day centre ‘um Bill’ at Multiple Sclérose Luxembourg
‘Beforehand, our occupational therapist and the trainee prepared a big heart made of wood with nails all over the wooden sculpture. Old T-shirts were cut into narrow strips and turned into long ropes by pulling them. These ropes were then knotted together and wrapped around the nails. During two afternoons, many visitors participated in this project.’
MS Day Center’ at Multiple Sclérose Luxembourg
‘Everyone was able to help according to their abilities, be it cutting, holding, pulling, knotting, wrapping, watching or motivating.’
The project helped build connections between the contributors themselves, ‘we worked together, talked together and had fun together.’ The ropes also took on a symbolic meaning representing connection to self and others; ‘Each rope is different, has a different colour, a different length and a different strength and thus represents our diversity.’ Of course, the sculpture is also a token to the official symbol of the World MS Day campaign – the MS Heart!
‘Florecer’ by Carla Grossa from Argentina
This photography series by Carla is a stunning embrace of life after an MS diagnosis. Carla says that after her diagnosis.
‘Something withered and blossomed in me.’
‘MS planted a new seed in my life. [In this project] I reveal how I dive inside myself and encourage other people to do the same. I broke the fear of having something in my body, I blossomed. I encourage you to reconcile with your emotional tide.’
The image of the flower on the arm alludes to MS treatments via injections or infusions, a strong statement of hope.
Carla says ‘I am a flower that came into the world to decorate it with colours. We can all flourish infinitely.’
‘Family is strength of MS’ by Kalubowilage Vishna Charukshi Perera Vishna from Sri lanka
Kalubowilage Vishna Charukshi Perera Vishna
‘My family is my strength and I show it on my drawing’.
You can feel the strength of the bond in Kalubowilage’s intimate portrayal of family. The artist emphasises the importance of family support for people with MS in helping to combat over thinking and loneliness. The close composition communicates the care and support offered to the person with MS at the very heart of the painting.
‘Connections through touch’ by Roni Sagi from Israel
Oil and mixed media techniques
Roni Sagi’s paintings share unspoken understandings through an exploration of human touch. The series portrays intense emotion within everyday moments, with a special focus on hands.
‘I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis not long after discovering the world of painting. The fear of losing the ability to use my hands for creating art, made me observe hands. I then notice how much we express through hands and how we use touch to connect to others and to ourselves.’
‘Family connection, connection to self, and connection to the disease within me. All of these are topics I explore in my paintings.
I draw the people I love, I start by taking many photos of my model, then I choose the picture that touches me and use it as my reference.
Using hands and figure, I look for compositions of physical touch and connection to oneself and with others.
Although many may say my paintings are realistic, I feel they capture abstract feelings, they are an image of myself.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to show other people with multiple sclerosis that this diagnosis is not the end of the world.’
‘We can continue to create, connect, and do the things we love.’
You can see more of Roni Sagi’s work here.
‘Connecting Hearts’ Norma Lorena Loeza from Mexico
Norma created this piece with traditional Mexican handicrafts, using a colour palette that were important to her because of vision problems with MS.
‘I think it´s very important connecting heart to heart with people living with MS. I created this image with traditional crafts, because the empathy exists in all languages, in all cultures in all the world. I loved the result!! All these colours are important for people like me, with visual disabilities.’
Norma Lorena Loeza
‘I believe that living with MS also allows us a different and unique vision of the world that we can capture to generate empathy.’
‘35 Lesions’ by Joan Jordan from Ireland
The artist Joan Jordan was diagnosed with MS back in 2010 following an MRI scan after experiencing unexplained symptoms. She explains that getting the diagnosis was a slight relief, ‘Many of my symptoms are invisible and people tell me that I look fine.’
The installation is a physical manifestation of this experience. Joan says ‘I wanted to make the shift from these symptoms being presented in a physiological manner to a more tactile one. The backdrop is of pop-art style images of my 35 brain lesions. The interactive skeleton demonstrates how my symptoms feel in practical terms – from headaches to fatigue, the MS Hug, tingling, numbness, pain, and foot-drop. The interactive nature of the piece means that people can make connections to understand what it is like to live with Multiple Sclerosis’
‘I want people to be more aware of how Multiple Sclerosis affects people living with it.’
‘If we share what it is like- we can connect with our communities to make things better. This is especially important for invisible symptoms.’
This installation made a debut last year in MS Ireland’s ‘The Art of MS – Symptoms Under the Spotlight’ exhibition, coinciding with World MS Day 2022.
‘Awareness’ by Faviola Ortiz Rivera from Puerto Rico
This work is dedicated to someone close to the artists heart. Faviola says ‘This piece was something very special and important to me since my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back in 2009.’
Faviola Ortiz Rivera
‘This piece works around the theme of unity and the sense of community for every and any person diagnosed with MS.’
‘I purposely chose to use three different kinds of people in my artwork, with different kinds of struggles, since MS can affect each individual differently.’
The piece is rich in symbolism, Faviola explains ‘The flowers are lilies and daffodils. Lilies are the flower of the month of May and since May 30th is the world MS day, I decided to use them. As for the daffodils, they are the flower of the month of March, the month of MS awareness [in Puerto Rico]. I also chose to use the flower’s orange variants since it’s the colour that represents the condition [in my country].
A huge congratulations to all the winners and finalists! The winners will each receive a special World MS Day trophy, and the finalists certificates of achievement.