Energy of Humanity: An AVM Collaboration with the University of Houston's Graduate College of Social Work

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Energy of Humanity” AVM Hawkins 2019; Acrylic & Mixed Media on Canvas, 31.5 x 30 inches.  In the Private Collection of Alan Detlaff.

“Energy of Humanity” AVM Hawkins 2019; Acrylic & Mixed Media on Canvas, 31.5 x 30 inches.

In the Private Collection of Alan Detlaff.

I always tell our students that as social workers, we have a dual purpose...Not only to address the needs of our clients, but also the bigger issues in society that create the need for social workers in the first place.
— Alan Detlaff, Outsmart Magazine

Earlier this year, I was blessed to attend the official kickoff of fundraising efforts by UH Graduate College of Social Work. I listened to Dean Alan Detlaff and Director of Development, Januari Leo, discuss the passion and commitment of their graduate students, pursuing a career path of service, advocation, and research to help eradicate social, racial, and economic injustice. However, in my opinion, this career choice is not glorified by our society. This work, is what my mother and grandmother would call, “The Lord’s Work.” At this event, I learned that these students incur thousands of dollars of student loan debt, to enter into a work force, where according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a social worker is $46,890. The funds raised would be used to award scholarships to worthy, hardworking and deeply committed graduate students to help them to pay for their higher education.

January Leo, Director of Development, read out loud a letter from a graduating scholarship recipient. The letter indicated how grateful this student was to receive the scholarship and how the scholarship greatly assisted her family as they underwent financially challenging times while she pursued her graduate degree. During this time, I was working as a contract staff attorney at the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy Inc., created to address legal and social issues that impact traditionally disenfranchised communities. Specifically, through grants, I provided free-legal services to persons within 125% of the poverty index, to help clear title to real property through title search, conveyance document drafting and filing, and Estate Administration. I also defended against wrongful foreclosures and represented clients in civil suits to protect their ownership in their homes. I worked this job, while working during nights and weekends to pursue my greatest and deepest desire to be a full-time, successful Visual Artist. I instantly connected with the graduate students. I related to them, and was deeply inspired by their dedication and conviction to pursue their personal path of service.

One of my personal internal conflicts with pursuing my passion for art, was the self-limiting belief, that if I pursued my passion to create art, that I am no longer working a career that serves and contributes to others. I knew I wanted somehow to give, with my (he)art. Towards the end of the event, I informed Januari Leo that I wanted to create and donate a painting specially made for UH Graduate College of Social Work, where they could use it to raise money for scholarships to provide to their graduate students. I wanted to create a painting that was beautiful, desirable, and most importantly, inspiring to the faculty, staff, graduate students, supporters of the college and all others, who are pursuing their personal path, whichever that may be, to give and contribute to our fellow brothers and sisters of the human race.

“Energy of Humanity” was inspired by Andy Warhol’s iconic Marylin Monroe Pop Art. I wanted to create my own unique interpretation of Warhol’s ideal of taking normal, everyday images of brands, well-known figures and transforming the image into a colorful, vibrant work of art. I wanted to embark on a similar journey by painting individuals who represent the tenets of social work.

I wanted to create a painting that was beautiful, desirable and most importantly inspiring to the faculty, staff, graduate students, supports of the college and all others who are pursuing their personal path, whichever that may be, to give and contribute to our fellow brothers and sisters of the human race.
— AVM Hawkins

“Energy of Humanity” incorporates some of the greatest revolutionaries for social justice, equality, and human rights. “Energy of Humanity” includes individuals who have made a great impact, using their voice, gifts, power, energy and influence for the empowerment and betterment of all people. The motion, colors and patterns radiating from each individual, symbolize each of their own personal energy. The individuals in the painting include: Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Cesar Chavez, Oprah Winfrey, James Baldwin, and Gloria Steinem.

University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work Luncheon: Celebrating 50 Years. April 11th, 2019 at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas. Photo from Left to Right: Mark Anthony Hawkins, AVM Hawkins, Laurie Vignaud and Lindsey Vignaud Marshall Ott.

University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work Luncheon: Celebrating 50 Years. April 11th, 2019 at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas. Photo from Left to Right: Mark Anthony Hawkins, AVM Hawkins, Laurie Vignaud and Lindsey Vignaud Marshall Ott.

On April 11th, 2019 at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work Luncheon: Celebrating 50 Years, “Energy of Humanity” was successfully raffled to raise over $15,000 to be used for scholarships. I am beyond honored to donate this painting and am extraordinarily grateful to help raise these funds for well-deserved future leaders. The winner of the raffle, gifted “Energy of Humanity” to Dean Alan Detlaff.

Due to the incredible response and desire for “Energy of Humanity” and in honor of celebrating 50 years of Social Work, I produced a one-time only, limited edition, of 50 signed and numbered prints, priced at $50 each, where 50% of the proceeds are donated to the Graduate College of Social Work. To date, “Energy of Humanity,” signed, limited edition prints has helped raise $400 for the College. " It is my intention that “Energy of Humanity” inspires the viewer to utilize his or her own unique energy, gifts, talents and personality in service to humanity.

To acquire your own limited edition, signed “Energy of Humanity” print, at AVMHakwins.com by clicking the image and button below.