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Painting Hope in the Metaverse – OZY

try something new

It’s time to get inspired. These young entrepreneurs have never given up on pursuing their dreams. They pushed boundaries and brought their ideas to life. We’ve teamed up with Gold Peak Tea to ask past OZY Genius Award winners how they persevered.

Sophia Victor takes it
famous art at metaverse

Just an experience

Portraiture has been central to Sophia Victor’s work since her early days in painting at the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, the only specialized high school for the arts in New York City. The Brooklyn-based artist, famous for her activism and large public murals, discovered her passion while working on a portrait of her father. “Everything at that time was just an experience,” she said.

Victor, formerly known as Sophia Dawson, said her early pieces were created as “vibrant and exaggerated” portraits to evoke reactions of joy, excitement, honor and adoration. “I really enjoyed being part of that reaction,” she says.

A bigger goal

But the purpose of her art changed when a close family member, a woman she describes as a second mother, was imprisoned on Rikers Island and then sent upstate to serve a ten-year sentence. years in prison. “I went from just doing things to get a reaction from people to [making art] it would invoke the memory of a person.

Victor says the incarceration of a family member has opened his eyes to a community of relatives who board trains and buses each week, pass through security and submit to searches by prison guards to make visit their loved ones behind bars. This experience gave her compassion for a demographic that she suddenly belonged to. The lasting effect of this experience paved the way for his later work, “Be free», a series of portraits representing political prisoners currently held by the United States and belonging to the Black Liberation Movement. This also led her to participate in workshops artistic noise, a Harlem-based nonprofit for teens detained in facilities such as Rikers Island. “I realized that art can transform a space. He can tell a story that no one has time to listen to,” she says.

new frontiers

Today, the muralist ventures into a new medium: digital art for the metaverse. Victor recently partnered with the OZY Genius Awards program to create a series of Non-Fungible Original Tokens, or NFTs, which will be minted this fall. She is optimistic about the potential of NFTs for artists and says the digital world, in her experience, has made the artistic community much more accessible by bringing together artists, collectives and art dealers from around the world in one same space.

Victor emphasizes the benefit of the potential immediate visibility that comes with exhibiting on an open digital platform. The issues reflected in her work are pressing, she says. In this sense, the process of preparing an exhibition in a physical space – all the steps from finding a place and partners to months of promotion – can seem “selfish” and counterproductive for the cause. The digital world, on the other hand, is free from these restrictions and can help get ‘the word behind the work’.

Increase the importance of the action

There is, however, another aspect worth considering. Victor says the internet is good for raising awareness and amplifying social justice causes, but at the same time minimizing the visibility of victims and activists. She also observes how being active in the social media space can make us complacent about our political activism. Activism on social networks, in his eyes, does not necessarily have the same gravity as coming together physically to take action.

The series created for OZY, spotlighting nine previous OZY Genius Award winners, will be Victor’s first major digital commission opening his work to new audiences and elevating his career to a new level. After spending years transforming the lives of young people on Rikers Island and across New York, Victor says she’s excited to leave a positive mark on the metaverse and engage with her community.

— by Sylwia Serafinowicz


Solar on the go: OGA winner
Antonia Ginsberg-Klemmt

A sunny revolution

It’s not always easy to change the world — bBut that’s not slowing down Antonia “Toni” Ginsberg-Klemmt. The 22-year-old renewable energy entrepreneur GismoPowera fully portable solar carport, is poised to revolutionize solar power and help consumers take power into their own hands.

“It’s actually a startup that can change the world, or change the whole idea of ​​affordable renewable energy,” says Ginsberg-Klemmt, who, together with his engineer father, designed the first compact, fully foldable, affordable and very powerful system for use at home, all before his 20th birthday. Now, a few years and several prestigious scholarships later, the Florida native is navigating towards her goal. But the journey has not always been easy.

By integrating a modular portable solar carport and EV charger, GismoPower’s patented MEGA™ (Mobile Electricity Generating Appliance) system can easily generate enough energy to power a home and an electric vehicle (EV). In Florida, however, this system does not fall into any easy regulatory category.” And this is causing friction with the state power company. “Florida’s regulations favor utility over distributed solar,” Ginsberg-Klemmt said. “When individuals control their own power generation, Florida Power and Light (FPL) loses money. Utilities monopolize the electric industry. What they are trying to do is make pay consumers to control the generation of electricity. We need to take that back.

Florida via California

To circumvent regulatory formalities, Ginsberg-Klemmt plans to officially list its GismoPower MEGA rack on the UL list with Intertek as a power-generating device. “Devices that consume electricity can easily be purchased and plugged into the power grid easily and without expensive permits, but as soon as someone wants to produce and feed electricity into the grid, purgatory is freed up. We must no longer accept this unwarranted roadblock,” said Ginsberg-Klemmt.

While the Sunshine State may not be in the mood to capitalize on its biggest free resource, other states are. “We packed three GismoPower MEGAs and drove them to California, where we have a lot of support. We also know now that we have enthusiastic support in North Carolina, where our first customers have just ordered a second system. So we’re thinking, ‘Okay, if we can get these systems approved in California andd North Carolina, so hopefully we can get it all back to Florida.

Not only did Ginsberg-Klemmt find enthusiastic support in two other states, but she got the stamp of approval from several impressive organizations, including the US Department of Energy, which awarded her a $206,000 SBIR grant. She also won this year’s $175,000 American Made Solar Prize and others, for a total of $437,000.

Difficulty is not a deterrent

In her spare time, the soon-to-be senior student also learned CAD (computer-aided design) to digitally render blueprints as her projects came together and her designs evolved. “I made all of our various prototypes and sent them to the structural engineering firm to create signed and sealed plans. They review my work and basically put their stamp of approval using my designs. I’m like, ‘wow, I can be an engineer. It’s entirely possible !’ So it was very, very fun. But also very difficult.

Difficulty is something Ginsberg-Klemmt and her role models — including climate activist Greta Thunberg and Green New Deal champion Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — have no problem facing it head-on. And neither did his father and business partner, Achim Ginsberg-Klemmt, the other big influence in his life. “If it wasn’t for my dad, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into solar energy,” she says. “I was born in Hawaii and literally grew up on a sailboat. We left the boat when I was 6 years old, but I remember the solar panels on the back of the boat and my father telling me that it was thanks to these panels that we had lights in the cabin or that we could plug in our laptop to play the games.”

Two birds, one stone

At home in Florida, Ginsberg-Klemmt had his original idea of his own electric vehicle: “Every time I plugged in my Nissan Leaf in college, I knew that the electricity was still coming from the FPL [Florida Power and Light]. Back home, I knew we were running because of the sun. Why can’t we shade my car and create power from the hot Florida sun at the same time? It’s absolutely not rocket science!

It wasn’t just Ginsberg-Klemmt’s father who believed in her — her first solid financial backing came in 2021 in the form of a $10,000 OZY Genius Award. “OZY was basically our little feeder in this incredibly amazing experience.

With With exciting projects, partnerships and possible prizes on the horizon, Ginsberg-Klemmt thinks more about what works than what doesn’t, and is nothing if not sunny as to what lies ahead. “I tried surfing for the first time, and for me it was kind of a visualization like, ‘Hey, you won’t catch every wave but, you know, if there’s a wave that works for you , take the.’ , and the world, can be very happy Toni Ginsberg-Klemmt took that wave.

— by Jennifer Ladonne


OZY is a diversified, global, forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “new and next.” OZY creates space for new perspectives and provides fresh perspectives on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment. / #OZY

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