Following our advertising and poster competitions we called on students around the world to use their imagination, creativity, talents and skills to create memorable and powerful graphic images to express the importance of preserving cultural heritage, and/or the irreversible damage that results from looting, smuggling and trading illicit antiquities. The artwork is to be used in our public awareness campaigns.

Entries arrived from all over the world, including South Africa, Peru, China, Pakistan, Indonesia and the United States. Thanks to everyone for lending their talent and ideas.

Loss and desire are important impulses in my artwork…In their transformation from tangible to ephemeral, these constructed ruins prompt us to ask: What is this? When was this made? Is it worth preserving?

Nicola Kountoupes

Nicola KountoupesFirst-prize winner Nicola Kountoupes, recipient of the $250 award
Rochester Institute of Technology

“My work is concerned with an awareness of the passage of time, the beauty of loss and a desire to understand the past,” says the SAFE 2007 Student Illustration and Photography Competition winner Nicola Kountoupes, a graduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. “In exploring this desire, I use the archaeological site as a symbol of the past that we wish to reveal through excavation.” But rather than search for the past by photographing sites in the real world, Kountoupes creates her own “simulated archaeological sites and archives where discoveries are literally made.”

First-prize winning artwork by Nicola Kountoupes

“The beauty I see in loss merges with a kind of exquisite pain and the unexplainable comfort of knowing that we all are involved in the same cycle of life. This coupling of comfort and pain — which can only be found at the site, in the experience, of loss — is worth contemplating.” First prize: Nicola Kountoupes

Composed of ink hand-printed onto filo dough, which resembles the weight and texture of parchment, these intimate scenes disintegrate almost as soon as they are created. “As the work deteriorates, I photograph it until it is gone,” says the artist. These transitory images arrest our attention as they “address the nature of memory, loss, and how we value objects that are triggers to our identity, mortality and sense of history. In their transformation from tangible to ephemeral, these constructed ruins prompt us to ask: What is this? When was this made? Is it worth preserving? How will it be preserved…or merely represented?”

I am interested in how we come upon these hopeful artifacts: how we imbue them with life, and how we consider their ruin. First prize: Nicola Kountoupes

I am interested in how we come upon these hopeful artifacts: how we imbue them with life, and how we consider their ruin. First prize: Nicola Kountoupes

Nicola Kountoupes is a graduate student at R.I.T’s Masters of Fine Arts program in Imaging Arts. She’s been photographing professionally for 15 years, and cooking professionally for much longer than that. Her studies and jobs have taken her to many places in the United States and abroad. Before moving to Rochester for graduate school, she spent 8 years as fulltime staff photographer for Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY, where she received a grant from the Cornell Counsel for the Arts for her documentary work. She continues to cook, make art and laugh. Read artist statement and a description of her technique here:

A visual representation is a readable carrier of memory, but it is not fixed, in meaning or in form. Photos become intangible touchstones of identity that have a certain power to connect us with something out of our reach. They are tricky carriers of memory that can protect us, fool us, outlive us, or die in front of us, but they are a connection to something, ineffable, that we long for.

Food can be a beautiful metaphor for the creation of loss. There is a potent, transient connection to a cultural heritage. But what is lost or sustained depends on how we treat it because we construct meaning from what’s been left for us to be discovered. Fragmentation becomes a key theme to my work in this regard.

These are all digital images printed directly or transferred onto Filo, dough that is as thin as paper, intended to be layered, and is the basis for much of Greek cooking, which is part of my cultural heritage. The Filo dries and fragments exceedingly fast, so it’s a good medium to help illustrate topics I am interested in: notions of desire and loss, relating to identity and history, and how we try to hold on and record, to continue a fleeting story.

Some photos are made by shooting through the fragments and layers of the dough into an emitted light. Others are excerpts from a series of photos I made over time, recording the deterioration process of pieces I left in a fixed location.

Laura dela Torre

Second-prize winner Laura de la Torre
Art Institute of Washington

“I am currently a student at the Art Institute of Washington DC, working towards an associate’s degree in Graphic Design. I previously attended NYU, where I received a Bachelor’s degree, and I am originally from Whittier, California.

empty past faceless futue

“Without knowledge of the past, the future is bleak.” Second prize: Laura de la Torre

I have been following the illicit antiquities trade for quite some time now, and hope to study it much further and raise more awareness about it one day, so I was glad to see SAFE’s competition, which allowed me to become more involved in this issue while utilizing my current interest in computer illustration. My inspiration comes from the fact that many people are un-phased by lost and looted antiquities because they see such items as merely ‘pretty objects’.

The empty hole is representative of the past and a looted site. It is an outline ready to be filled in, but without knowledge of the past, the future is bleak. The cloud above the child represents her view of the future as she peers into an empty hole. The cloud vision looks modern, but it is anonymous, cold, artificial and lifeless, and the people are faceless and distorted. In the future we may be technologically advanced, but, without an appreciation for past civilizations, what will our future civilization be like?”

Tri Hapsor GunoThird-prize winner Tri Hapsor Guno
School of Medicine Padjadjaran University, Bandung-Indonesia

Stop looting art

“If antiquities are a proof of our existence, what will happen if they are lost? Will we be known by future generations of people?” Third prize: Tri Hapsor Guno

“My work depicts the struggle of people who tried to save a statue which was stolen in front of their eyes. Through this picture, I hope we can unify our voices into one call to stop the looting, smuggling, and trading in antiquities. I believe that with only our voices, we can cause great changes.

I took the photograph of the Buddha statue from the great ancient temple Candi of Borobudur in central Java, Indonesia. It is the biggest Buddhist temple in indonesia, and perhaps the world.

My name is Tri Hapsoro Guno. I am 19 years old from Jakarta, Indonesia. I lived in Jakarta until I finished high school, and was raised within the traditional Java culture of Indonesia. In Java, the people hold strong traditions that rule almost all of their daily activities. I am currently a student in the medical school of Padjadjaran University in Bandung City, one of the biggest universities in Indonesia, far from my family in Jakarta. I love art, photography and design, but I chose medical school because I hope that, in the future, I can be a good doctor who can help many others.

When I first heard about the SAFE competition, I was looking for any kind of art competition to show my parents that I have talent. But when I came to understand the fact that, every day and all around the world, people steal and trade antiquities in the black market, I decided to enter the SAFE competition because maybe my work can make a difference. I am very surprised to find out that I have been chosen to be one of the winners. Now I can proudly show my family that I can really do this and maybe my artwork will also be used in a media campaign that will help save our history. Through this competition, I have learned that I can help make a change in the world; no matter that it is only a small part now. It is for the world, my world, our world.”


Pietro Consavari has been an Art Director in Italy in the financial, fashion and consumer goods sectors (Cacao, Papermoon, Unlimited Jeans, Credito Italiano) since 1991. In 2002 he started his own Studio Consavari and thenConsavari & Associati. In addition to splitting his time between Venice and California, he teaches visual communication and art direction at the International School of Graphic Design in Venice as well as Boston University and Connecticut College.

Tom Dahill is a Boston based painter. Some of his recent projects include two murals at the Middlesex Canal Museum in Billerica, a museum that is dedicated to the conservation of the existence of the canal and as much of its history as possible. Tom is also an illustrator, having recently finished illustrations for two books on history and four on poetry. He has also been a teacher of both studio courses and Art History.

Neil Levy began his advertising career at TBWA Chiat/Day in San Francisco, followed by Odiorne Wilde Narraway and Partners in San Francisco. He is currently making his home at BBDO West in San Francisco working on The California Lottery, Air New Zealand and The Partnership For Drug Free America. His work has been featured in the International Advertising Festival at Cannes, the Clio’s, Communication Arts, Archive, Graphis, and Print Magazine.

Jeff Marcus is the Principal ofMarcus Associates, a San Francisco identity and design consultancy, serving clients in the financial, healthcare, technology, hospitality, and education fields. His client list comprises, among others, Apple, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Siemens, Charles Schwab, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Levi Strauss. A graduate of the University of Colorado he was previously Senior Identity Consultant and Director of Print Design at Landor.

John McDermott is a photographer whose clients include Eastman Kodak, FIFA, Newsweek, Wallstreet Journal, Sports Illustrated, IBM, American Express, MSNBC, GEO, and others. His work has been showcased in Communication Arts Photo Annual, Graphis Photo, International Olympic Committee Photo Contest, AIGA Annual.

Glynnis Osher began her art direction career in South Africa in 1983 after graduating from the Johannesburg School of Art and Design. After moving to New York, Glynnis worked as an art director and group art supervisor in various advertising agencies, including Grey Advertising New York. Her career has included high profile product launches and art direction awards as well as art exhibits of her own personal work in both South Africa and the USA. Glynnis has also been part time faculty at Seattle Central Community College in the advertising and design department and now runs her own company and has settled in Vancouver BC, Canada.