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Teens Offer the Art of Healing
to Over-the-Rhine

Date: Aug. 8, 2001
Story by: Rita Williams
Photos by: Rita Williams and Keesha Nickison
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Archive: General News

A University of Cincinnati program is teaming advanced art students with teens from seven area high schools in order to heal community wounds in Over-the-Rhine.

Fifteen junior high and high school students, along with five UC graduate art students, are gathering every weekday morning from 8 a.m.-noon in a Findlay Market storefront, despite the lack of air conditioning there. They sweat over sculpture, banner, bench and quilt projects that bear a message of healing for Over-the-Rhine.

boarded storefront students painted after rioting

They're working toward an August 16 deadline for finishing the projects. The teens will present their work to the community, to their families and to supporters from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, August 16, in their storefront workplace, 1807 Elm Street (the corner of Elm and Elder, right next to Globe Furniture).

"They're finding their future through art," explained UC art education major Karen Hutzel, coordinator of UC's Art-in-the-Market program. They're also finding a future for Over-the-Rhine in their art. For instance, these students quickly mobilized after the April riots. They've painted vibrant murals of hope on the boards covering broken windows surrounding Findlay Market.

bag sculptures

UC's Art-in-the-Market, directed by Frank Russell, director of the UC Community Design Center, has brought teens and university students together for the past five summers to create new visions for Over-the-Rhine. This year is the second time the program will run a full year, from September 2000 through mid-August 2001.

It's fitting that this group is creating new art for Over-the-Rhine since rioters destroyed some of the work students created in previous summers. Price Hill resident Lashee Jones, an Aiken High School sophomore, hopes their efforts will give people a reason to come back downtown.

bench students painted last year

The teens come from the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, from Hughes, Dater, Taft, Aiken, Holmes and Western Hills high schools as well as North Fairmount and Shroder Paideia schools. Their current art projects are:

  • A community quilt: The quilt is comprised of Cincinnati images, including Over-the-Rhine, Findlay Market, Graeter's and Skyline. It also depicts images of the students' city experiences: shooting basketball and childhood playgrounds. The quilt will travel the city, then be exhibited on the second floor of the Findlay Market building when that floor becomes a welcome center.

  • Banners for Findlay Market's North Parking Lot: The banners contain the words of community residents who have come to interact with the students.

  • Organic concrete sculpture: To be placed in the Findlay Market north parking lot, the sculpture contains objects the students found walking through the community - bottles, cans, a cigarette lighter, to name a few. "One person's junk is another person's art," explained Hutzel.

  • Two ceramic tiled tables with accompanying benches: One table will be placed in the tree-shaded green space owned by Globe Furniture at Elder and Central Ave. Another will be placed in IMPACT Over-the-Rhine's eco-garden at Henry and Dunlap.

    tile

    The community is also coming together to help with the projects. The tiles that will cover the tables and benches were painted with individual designs by 136 Over-the-Rhine residents. Kenny Welch, a freshman at Holmes High School, said "I was surprised how many people came to help. It's pretty cool to walk by and see your art in the middle of town for everyone to see."

    Hutzel with sculpture from last year

    Hutzel agrees, "I have no problem getting up in the morning. I know the kids are counting on me. The public art is good, but the best part of the project is the kids. We eat together. We're a family."

    In addition to UC, sponsors of the Art-in-the-Market program are the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio's Urban University Program, and the City of Cincinnati. Other supporters include the New Prospect Church of Over-the-Rhine, which is providing the work space, as well as the Findlay Market Association, Friends of Findlay Market, The Witt Company, IMPACT Over-the-Rhine, local artists, and UC art faculty.

    Other UC graduate fine art students helping with the program are Arynn McCandless, Patrick Mills, Darren Murray, Andrew Cover and Natalie Hager.


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