Local Teens and College Students Practice the Art of Hope in Over-the-Rhine

For eight years now, local teens have teamed with University of Cincinnati students to construct a durable heritage of public art in Over-the-Rhine.

This summer is the same, with some students coming back from prior years.  They’re loyal to the community they’ve adopted and the legacy that’s begun – a legacy that already includes a community quilt for the Findlay Market welcome center, colorful banners, dramatic sculptures, and ceramic-tiled tables and benches.

Once again, UC’s Art in the Market program is teaming advanced art students from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, professional artists and students from other universities with 12 local teens from eight area high schools from June 23-Aug. 15.

They gather every weekday morning from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  This year’s projects include two murals, copper-piping sculptures, street theater, street signs, a community time capsule and more.

“The program actually runs year round, but summer is when we go into high-gear for creating art that’s part of a new vision for Over-the-Rhine,” according to Program Coordinator Amos Hopkins, a UC graduate who served as a student mentor in the program in the year 2000.

Jonte Cohen

Jonte Cohen

Hopkins, along with professional artist Karlos McAffee of the West End; UC students Allison Ianetti,  Christina Ridley and Angela Stanberry as well as New York University student Katy Graves and Miami University planning student Katie Schumm are working with students from the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, from Taft, Jacobs, Hughes, Dater, Aiken, Withrow and Western Hills high schools.  They’re focusing this summer’s efforts on a variety of projects including:

  • A mural at 4745 E. McMicken Ave. that celebrates the nearby community garden

  • Wire sculptural faces, made of copper tubing, pay homage to local residents and echo their struggles to survive as families.  They are located at 1723 Pleasant St., just south of Findlay Market.

  • Fifteen street signs – depicting community members and containing a quote about each individual’s favored spots in the community and also picturing that spot – will be placed around Findlay Market’s north parking lot.

  • Saturday street theater that moves from place to place on the perimeter of the Findlay Market house depicts stories gleaned from long-time residents.  Students will also provide music every Saturday as well.

  • A time capsule, which will actually be a time sculpture, will be located in the tower of the renovated market house.  It will contain items that residents contribute to represent the current reality of the community and contributions to represent what residents would like to see the community become. 

Mar'Quia Wilson, Maccara Barber, Lerenda Sims

Mar'Quia Wilson, Maccara Barber, Lerenda Sims

Art in the Market

does more than create art objects in Over-the-Rhine.  It also changes the lives of the teens involved, several of whom have remained in the program for a number of years and have found their future through art.  Dater High School senior Brittany Sparks of Over-the-Rhine has participated in the program for four years now, and it has sparked her interest to major in art education when she enters college.  The program has also sparked design dreams for participants Tamika Thomas and Jewel Gilbert.  Gilbert, 17 and a rising senior at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, is spending her second summer with the Art in the Market program, which has fed her interest in costume design.  To that end, Gilbert, a resident of Evanston, plans to enter UC’s

fashion design program

in 2004. 

“I’ve always been interested in fashion design,” explained Gilbert, who is working with professional artist Karlos McAffee to create sculptures from copper tubing.  She added,  “This program helps me to be more creative, to look at things differently.  I would not have thought, perhaps, to make sculptures from metal tubing.  Last summer, I helped to make a mosaic from tile, and I’d never worked with tile before that.”

In addition to UC, sponsors for Art in the Market are the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio’s Urban University Program, and the City of Cincinnati.  Other supporters are the Findlay Market Association, Friends of Findlay Market, Mohawk Area Development Corporation and IMPACT Over-the-Rhine.

Past works created by the Art in the Market program, founded by Frank Russell, director of UC’s Community Design Center, are still to be seen in the area at:

  • 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 students’ own experiences:  Shooting basketball and childhood playgrounds.  The quilt is exhibited in the second-floor welcome center of Findlay Market.

  • Banners in Findlay Market’s north parking lot and throughout the Findlay Market house

  • Two ceramic-tiled tables with accompanying benches: One table is in the tree-shaded greenspace owned by Globe Furniture at Elder and Central Avenue.  Another is in IMPACT Over-the-Rhine’s eco-garden at Henry and Dunlap.

  • Four six-foot-tall totems of wood and brass, located in Findlay Market’s north parking lot which is bordered by Elm Street, Race Street and Findlay Street

  • Gateway pillars at the entrance of the Findlay Market north parking lot at Findlay and Race streets

  • Cast-iron mini-sculptures in the shape of stylized shopping bags at Elder and Pleasant streets

  • Colorful benches, one at 1810 Elm St. and one in the north parking lot of Findlay Market

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