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Arts + Culture : For Good

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Macy's Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival offers $1 zoo admission

Local residents can enjoy the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden for just $1 during the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival this Wednesday. 

The summer festival, hosted by Learning Through Art (LTA), is returning for the ninth year in a row. LTA is an organization committed to increasing community participation in the arts and humanities as well as encouraging multicultural awareness and understanding. 

“We’re celebrating the mosaic beauty of those living in Cincinnati all day long,” says Kathy Wade, LTA co-founder and CEO. “We want to encourage people to meet their neighbors.” 

Performers this year range from DJ Pillo to Jesse Mooney-Bullock (puppeteer), Bing Yang Chinese Performing Arts Center, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and Robin Lacy and DeZydeco. Some performers, such as the Cincinnati Circus, Anaya Belly Dancing and Mariachi Band Zelaya, will be roaming and not on the main stage. 

LTA also has a new partner this year: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will introduce the Cincinnati Children’s Wellness Zone. The zone will feature hands-on activities and encourage children to experience the importance of health habits. 

Metro is offering 50 cents for a one-way bus trip or $1 round-trip bus fare from anywhere on Route 46, Wade says. 

Do Good:

•    Attend the festival and meet your neighbors. 

•    Check out the all-day event schedule

•    Follow LTA on Twitter for updates. 

World's best pianists compete in Cincinnati

Cincinnati welcomes 22 of the world’s greatest pianists to compete in the World Piano Competition (WPC) this week. The annual competition has featured top performers from across the globe for the past 58 years.

The WPC promotes and celebrates classical piano as an artistic form by providing exposure for artists and building new audiences, ranging from children to senior citizens. The WPC expanded this year to collaborate with the world-renowned Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

After many months of rehearsing and practicing, WPC competitors traveled from seven different countries—including China, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Macedonia, Canada and the United States—to compete for more than $45,000 in prize money as well as a debut recital in New York. 

“Of course there is a competitive aspect, and people want to win,” says Awadagin Pratt, WPC’s artistic director. “But, for the audience, it’s a great thing to watch emerging young talent make a really strong connection to the audience.”

The competition will take place at Corbett Auditorium in CCM Village on UC’s campus. The preliminary rounds, which take place June 23 and 24, will determine the six semifinalists. During the semifinalist rounds, June 25 and 26, those six semifinalists will perform a 60-minute solo of their choosing. The semifinalists will then be cut down to three.

Those three will rehearse with the CSO in preparation for the final round, in which they will perform a full concerto under conductor William Eddins to compete for first, second and third prize. The 2014 WPC winner will be announced during an awards ceremony following the final performances.

“The judges are looking for the best pianist,” Pratt says. “We're hoping it's someone with a great connection to the composers they play and who is passionate about communicating that to the audience."

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets by visiting the CSO website or calling the CSO box office at 513-381-3300.
•    Donate to the WPC.
•    For volunteer opportunities, contact Mary Jo Barnett.

Artsy motorcycle helmets benefit charity

Motorcycle helmets are generally purchased for their ability to prevent serious injury or death while riding, with their aesthetic value taking the sidecar. Local artists are changing lanes with that idea, using their creativity to protect skulls and raise funds for charity.

The Biltwell ART & MOTO show is a collection of artistically redesigned motorcycle helmets painted and crafted by independent artists and auctioned off for charity. The exhibit opened May 30 at Article Menswear in Over-the-Rhine and ran through June 7. It benefitted the LifeCenter organ donation network, which coordinates the donation of human tissues and organs transplants. Between $1,500 and $2,500 was expected to be raised by the helmet auction alone.

Biltwell Helmets teamed up with Cincinnati Cafe Racer and Mighty Ohio Scooter Club to organize a rally for Cincinnati's motor enthusiasts, from Segways and mopeds all the way to choppers. The event included a raffle, live music and a group ride.

The helmets, designed by nearly two dozen local artists, are still safe to wear, in most cases.

"Many of the helmets are un-altered in structure and no safety has been compromised," says Timothy Burke of Cincy Cafe Racer. "Others are purely fun art pieces that you could wear but would look pretty silly doing so (such as the wedding cake helmet or the one with spikes added)."

“The idea came from what the guys in Portland did a couple of years ago with the '21 Helmets' show in the fall of 2012,” Burke says, referring to a similarly styled helmet show that gained some attention in the biker and art worlds. “I thought, Cincinnati has a great art community, and I would love to do this locally to combine my love of motorcycles and my love of art. So in 2013, we did our first ART & MOTO show with only seven artists. This year, Biltwell signed on to sponsor and provide helmets which enabled us to get a bigger reach and not pay out of our own pockets to fund the helmets.”

The Kentucky Project shares beauty, betters lives of others

Chris Egan founded The Kentucky Project this past November in an effort to share the state’s beauty and culture, while also enriching the lives of those who inhabit it—all for the purpose of creating positive change.
 
Though the organization is still, as Egan calls it, “a baby,” the most recent added component is the launch of the photo sales website.
 
For each purchase of a print showcasing the beauty Kentucky has to offer, the organization will donate 25 percent of the profits to a local nonprofit.
 
The Healthy Newborns Project, which is the collaborative effort of Transitions Inc. and The Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2014, is The Kentucky Project’s photo sales program’s first recipient.
 
According to Transitions, Inc., the number of drug addicted babies born in the state of Kentucky between 2000-2009 increased 2,400 percent.
 
To help mitigate the rising number of unhealthy births, The Healthy Newborns Project aims to provide a safe place for women who are recovering from drug addiction so they can “deliver a healthy, drug-free baby.”
 
Women continue to receive support in the transitional home for up to four months after giving birth.
 
For Egan, it’s important to donate 25 percent of the photo sales profits because the basis of The Kentucky Project is to help others.
 
“We share photos of Kentucky to show its beauty and do what we can to help Kentucky organizations and individuals spread their message,” Egan says. “We've already been a small part of many important issues, and we hope to be more helpful and become a bigger soundboard in the future.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support The Kentucky Project and The Healthy Newborns Project by purchasing prints.

•    Connect with The Kentucky Project on Facebook.

•    Contact The Kentucky Project if there is an important issue you're concerned about.

CSYO provides networking, friendship, engagement to youth

Jackie Tso, a senior at Sycamore High School and concertmaster for the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra has been playing violin for 13 years.
 
“My brother and my mom each played together when we were younger, and when I was about two, I would always go to pick up my brother’s violin and try to play it,” Tso says.
 
“And so my mom thought it’d be nice to start me on violin because I’d always showed a passion for it, so I started with the Suzuki training method when I was four.”
 
Tso just wrapped up her final concert with the CSYO as first violinist, and her time with the orchestra is something she says she’ll never forget.
 
“I’ve really just learned so much about orchestra and being a leader,” Tso says. “It’s been a blessing. I’ve developed friendships that are real friendships, and they’ll continue after high school.”
 
Tso has played with the CSYO for the past four years, and during that time, she’s had opportunities to play solos in front of large audiences and to perform alongside members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
 
“I’ve learned a lot from sitting next to a professional, and playing solo with that orchestra is so cool,” Tso says. “Just to have a huge orchestra behind you—double the size of a normal one—it’s just so powerful and a good feeling as well.” 

Do Good:

•    Learn about, and consider auditioning for the CSYO.

•    Support the CSO and its programs. 

•    Connect with the CSYO on Facebook.

Young Professionals' Choral Collective continues venture as it transitions to nonprofit

About three and a half years ago, the Young Professionals’ Choral Collective hosted its first rehearsal, and about 35 singers showed up; but for the past two years, the organization has been going strong, says KellyAnn Nelson, managing artistic director.
 
“We’re at over 350 singers on our roster,” Nelson says. “It’s grown much faster than we expected it to.”
 
The yp/CC is a growing organization that funds itself through donations and ticket sales, but it’s currently in the process of transitioning into the nonprofit sector.
 
“We realized it’s bigger than one person’s business.” Nelson says. “Part of our mission is that we’re not only a choir that makes music, but that we’re creating connections with local businesses, local arts organizations, and we have this triangle in addition to being a performing arts organization.”
 
On any given rehearsal night, you could find about 60 singers in what Nelson refers to as a “nontraditional space” (this cycle, it’s at Japp’s) where yp/CC members patronize local establishments by purchasing cocktails before and after rehearsals.
 
As the organization evolves and begins to form its own nonprofit board, Nelson says she hopes it encourages yp/CC singers to go out into the local arts community and support and serve on other boards as well, to further the community relationships the organization continues to build upon.
 
The model has been so successful to this point that Nelson says other cities have reached out to her about creating similar ventures in their own spaces.
 
“I’m just so curious to see if this project is so successful because it’s just in people’s hearts and souls that they want to sing, and want to sing in a social, fun and accessible way, and that works everywhere—or if there’s something truly special about Cincinnati—that people just flock to this idea in a totally unexpected way,” Nelson says. “So that’s an interesting part of our experiment right now.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the yp/CC in its second annual crowdfunding campaign by helping the organization reach its $5,000 dollar goal by May 23.

•    Attend the yp/CC's spring concert May 20 at Rhinegeist Brewery.

•    Join the yp/CC and sing.

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Historic Cincinnati photos show city's progress throughout the past century

Treasures in Black & White, a new exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC), is a collection of photographs and artifacts from Cincinnati dating back to the 1860s. Scott Gampfer, director of the CMC’s History Library and Archives, was instrumental in putting the exhibit together.

“The exhibit provides a glimpse into a century of the life of Cincinnati,” Gampfer says. “Visitors will see through the images how much the city has changed, and how many things have remained constant. For example, although electric cars are seen as cutting-edge technology today, the exhibit features a photograph of a woman charging up her electric car in 1912.”

“The photographs in the exhibit are augmented by display cases containing historic artifacts and archival materials that relate to specific images in the exhibit. These objects and archival materials help bring the photographs to life,” Gampfer says. “The images depict the city’s changing built environment, sports, entertainment, business, social activities, daily life, lighthearted moments and some difficult moments in the life of the city.”

What’s Gampfer’s favorite photo in the exhibit?

“One of my favorites is the image of the “balloon man” selling a balloon to a young client outside of Redland Field in 1929 while a police officer watches over the transaction," he says. "It’s whimsical, yet is a compelling atmospheric street shot from the 1920s. The photo doesn’t actually show Redland Field, which is behind the photographer, but the exhibit includes a nearby case with various artifacts and archival materials relating to the ballpark.”

Gampfer says the exhibit concept is based on a book project that CMC did along with Turner Publishing in 2006 titled “Historic Photographs of Cincinnati.” It featured more than 200 black and white images from the CMC collection. Re-released in 2013, the idea of basing the 2014 Treasures Exhibit on the images selected for that book was sparked.

“The exhibit curatorial team selected 65 images from the 200 in the book and tried to maintain the book’s diversity of subject matter and time periods,” Gampfer says. “High-resolution digital scans were made of the original source photos from the collection, and from these scans, high-quality black and white 16-by-20-inch prints were made. The prints were then matted and framed.”

July 28 marks the 100-year anniversary of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia, which effectively started World War I. With “the war to end all wars” on the world’s mind, it's fascinating to see authentic Cincinnati relics from the homefront at that time.

Treasures in Black & White runs at the Cincinnati Museum Center until October 12.
 

21c Cincinnati to host international art competition's Pitch Night

Local individuals will have the unique opportunity to gain an advantage in the spotlight among international artists, as 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati will host ArtPrize’s Pitch Night next month.
 
The event is designed to give local artists a boost, while expanding the work of ArtPrize—a nonprofit venture and annual competition that takes place in Grand Rapids, Mich.
 
The goal of the competition is to bring more than 1,500 individuals together to expose and fund the work of emerging artists.
 
“In Cincinnati, there’s a wide range of talented artists working in all mediums—many of whom have been educated by the outstanding arts education institutions, and I feel certain there are a number of wonderful artists in Cincinnati who deserve to have broader exposure on a national stage,” says Alice Gray Stites, 21c’s chief curator and director of art programming.
 
Participation in ArtsPrize would afford local artists that opportunity, says Gray Stites, who wants to see all area artists submit proposals for Pitch Night, in which five chosen finalists will present their pitches to compete for a $5,000 grant to bring their ArtPrize idea to fruition and receive a guaranteed installment space within the competition’s 19-day, three-square-mile exhibition.
 
“ArtPrize shares our dedication to the art of today and especially that of emerging artists,” Gray Stites says. “So we hope all interested Cincinnati-based artists will participate, and we encourage the art community and public to come to the discussion.”
 
Do Good:

Contact ArtPrize for inquiries regarding the application process, and submit your proposal. 

• Attend Pitch Night Cincinnati May 22 at 21c. The event is free and open to the public. Visit the website for more details.

• Like ArtPrize on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


NKU students use grafitti as vehicle to fund nonprofits

For students like Jason Hulett, community-building events are invaluable when it comes to presenting ideas, raising awareness, sparking conversations and making a difference in the lives of others.
 
GraffitiFest, which took place last week, constitutes one of those events, says Hulett, a Northern Kentucky University senior entrepreneurship major and GraffitiFest lead organizer.
 
“I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have graffiti on campus? And then, wouldn’t it be cool if we could provide graffiti to people on campus? And if we’re going to hold an event, we might as well do it for a good cause,'” Hulett says.
 
So likeminded students from an event planning class came together to bring graffiti artists, local musicians, vendors, teams of entrepreneurship students and the general public together to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits who provide relief to others.
 
“We wanted to show graffiti in a positive light because it gets a bad rep with vandalism and all that. But if we were going to raise money, we wanted to do it for social good and not just personal gain,” Hulett says. “So it goes toward artists and nonprofits—no CEOs—the university makes no money off this. So that was important to us.”
 
Proceeds from the event, in which graffiti artists’ work from the day was auctioned off, totaled about $1,500 dollars, which will be split down the middle to benefit artists as well as charities.
 
“It was a celebration of an artform that we think is underutilized and underappreciated, and it created an opportunity for something different to shine in a light that’s more positive,” Hulett says. “Some of the causes of the nonprofit—especially Revive the Heart with human trafficking—people don’t want to hear about that. But if you present it in that kind of format, you get a better response because people are more willing to participate.” 

Do Good:

• Like GraffitiFest's Facebook page, as the students plan to make this at least an annual event. 

• Follow GraffitiFest on Twitter.

• Support local artists and nonprofits you're passionate about.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Singing with neighbors at Northside Tavern

A group of about 20 individuals, all who love to sing, join together once a month at Northside Tavern to bond with one another, learn a song, rehearse it and perform it—all in a matter of three hours.
 
Sing! Cincinnati is just one of Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati’s initiatives aimed at building a sense of community around shared interests.
 
“Inevitably, someone will always come to the back and talk about how back in college, they used to be involved in xyz choir or some choral group—something they had done previously—but then because of getting in a career, they put it by the wayside, but continue to miss it since they stopped doing it,” says Michael Heckmann, who serves as project manager for some of Starfire’s community-based initiatives, like Sing! Cincinnati.
 
“There’s not a lot of time pressure: You show up, you practice, you sing—it’s all in one night.”
 
The project just started a few months ago, but so far, the small group has performed “For the Longest Time,” “Pure Imagination” and “Happy.”
 
“I've thoroughly enjoyed helping take familiar songs and bring them to life with the amazing people that come to the events,” says Ali Marvin, one of Sing! Cincinnati’s directors. “I can't express how overwhelmed I am by the response from those who have come and can’t wait to see more of Cincinnati start singing together.”
 
Any individual who enjoys meeting neighbors and singing is encouraged to join in, as it helps Starfire to fulfill its mission of bringing people together.
 
“We want to make sure that everyone in the community is seen for their gifts and talents and the contributions they can make to society,” Heckmann says. “Those contributions lead to the building of relationships and growing of respect for all people.”

Do Good:

• Like Sing! Cincinnati on Facebook.

• Attend the next Sing! Cincinnati gathering at Northside Tavern April 23 from 6-9 p.m.

• Bring a friend. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Comic Con comes to Cincinnati Public Library for 2nd straight year

If attending Zombie Preparedness Boot Camp has ever crossed your mind, you’ll probably want to mark some Cincinnati Library Comic Con 2014 events on your calendar for the next couple months.
 
“We’re going to go over the types of zombies there are, the theories behind how the viruses are spread, as well as do activities—like build a zombie survival kit,” says LeeAnn McNabb, PLCHC reference librarian. “So we’ll see who has the best score, and there will be prizes.”
 
Zombie Preparedness Boot Camp is just one of the many options the public has to choose from when considering an educational and entertaining event for community engagement.
 
“We’re having a drawing contest now—it can be comic book, manga or anime related—and people ages 5 and up can participate,” McNabb says. “But we have events for a variety of age groups that are related to comic books or graphic novels or manga—things of that nature—and then the main event, where there will be booths and a gaming area.”
 
Various art and writing guests will also be present throughout the series of events.
 
“We bring in people who are professionals, and they’ll do a workshop on say, writing for comic books, or drawing for comic books. And of course we have materials within our collection that artists or writers can use to hone their skills or learn what they need to do for that particular genre or format,” McNabb says.
 
“So there’s a multifaceted educational approach for this event, and in general for comic books and graphic novels. We’re just hoping for a fun space where people can learn about our resources and have fun at the same time.”

Do Good: 

• Learn about the drawing contest, and consider entering. 

• Keep up with the events schedule, and plan to attend. 

• Like the PLCHC on Facebook.

 By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Zipline on down the road or dance in public with Join the Fun

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults engage in 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times a week, or 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week.
 
But only 47 percent of adults in our region are attaining either of those amounts, according to the 2010 Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey.
 
So Interact for Health, formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, in partnership with ArtsWave—supporter of more than 100 Greater Cincinnati arts organizations—have joined together to launch Join the Fun.
 
“The whole premise is about having social engagement and interaction so people can go out with family, with friends, or even just to a location where they know there will be a group of people doing some sort of activity they can join in,” says Jaime Love, program officer for healthy eating and active living at Interact for Health. 
 
The Join the Fun initiative funds 21 total grantees and will enable community members across the region to do things like dance in public, relax while practicing yoga and even zipline down a two-mile closed-off area of a public roadway.
 
“A lot of times, people just get used to their same routine and being inside, or being at home and not getting out with people,” Love says. “So this is an opportunity where they can say they’re not by themselves—there’s a group they can engage with—and they can do something for fun.” 

Do Good:

• Engage in Join the Fun activities. 

• Connect with Interact for Health and ArtsWave on Facebook.

Support ArtsWave.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


 

WomenWorkBooks showcases female identity, self-expression

WomenWorkBooks, which is a collaborative group exhibition of art books created by local female artists and teen girls, makes its debut at Kennedy Heights Arts Center Saturday.
 
The exhibit coincides with National Women’s History Month; and for Kennedy Heights Art Center’s Executive Director Ellen Muse-Lindeman, the project, which was inspired by work created by women in Art4Artists, is a way to showcase individual women’s voices.
 
“They’re beautiful works of art, so in talking about the exhibit, I just really saw not only how much the books are able to be enjoyed in terms of their artistic expression, but also how they can really serve as a springboard for discussion on a whole range of issues related to women and women’s lives,” Muse-Lindeman says.
 
Each art book showcases women’s hopes, dreams and curiosities, and contains responses to themes like “Voices Swimming in My Head,” “Odd Jobs for Odd Women” and “Wrinkles.”
 
The mission at Kennedy Heights Arts Center is to present visual art that sparks conversation, but it’s also to bring diverse groups of artists together, Muse-Lindeman says.
 
To that end, KHAC facilitated a project with teen girls, who used mixed-media methods like sewing, collage and painting to reflect themes like self-awareness and relationships. Their work will be displayed alongside the books made by Art4Artists.

Following one of the teen art sessions, Muse-Lindeman says she spoke with a participant who gained self-confidence as a result of the project; and that’s something she hopes finds it way into the lives of future participants this spring, as the arts center will continue its work in the community to provide similar opportunities for at-risk girls from Cincinnati Public SchoolsThe Children’s Home of CincinnatiLighthouse Youth Services and The Family Nurturing Center.

“She realized that she always was frustrated making visual art because she felt she’d have to make it look a certain way, and she really came through this experience understanding that art is really an expression of one’s self, so there really isn’t a right or wrong or a good or bad,” Muse-Lindeman says. “She really embraced that through the project, in terms of not feeling so self-conscious, but really of being proud of what she accomplished.”

Do Good:

• Attend the opening reception for WomenWorkBooks Saturday, March 8 from 6-8 p.m., and if you can't make it, check out the exhibit during gallery hours. It runs through April 19. 

• Meet the artists, and attend a panel discussion April 5 at 2 p.m. Call 513-631-4278 to schedule a personalized tour and hands-on activity if you have a group interested in attending. 

Support the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

CSO celebrates African American song with Classical Roots

About 150 voices from dozens of Tri-State churches will join together in song Friday evening in one of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s biggest community outreach initiatives of the year.
 
Classical Roots, which is an annual program that celebrates African American musical traditions, is focusing its efforts this year on the power of song.
 
“Each year we have a different theme,” says Paul Booth, chair of the CSO’s Diversity and Inclusion board committee. “And everyone you speak with that performs with the choir indicates it’s an absolutely awesome experience.”
 
Cincinnati Pops conductor John Morris Russell will lead the Community Mass Choir, who will perform with the Cincinnati Symphony’s full orchestra, in addition to special guest performers, like Grammy-Award winning Gospel leader and pastor Marvin Winans, who is headling the event.
 
“It’s unique in that persons from all walks of life, who perhaps just love to sing, but who also do have some ability to read music, can perform with a world-class orchestra and conductor,” Booth says.
 
Making classical music accessible to a wide range of audiences is one of the CSO’s goals, and reaching out to community members to make the symphony experience one that all can enjoy and learn from is something the organization does an excellent job with, Booth says.
 
“Our world is diverse, and certainly Cincinnati is a diverse city,” Booth says. “And I think any organization that’s going to be successful should be certain that they reach out and involve and appeal to all aspects and segments of the community.” 

Do Good:

• Purchase a ticket to attend Classical Roots, Friday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., and spread the word about the event to your family and friends.

Support the CSO and Pops by donating.

• Like the CSO on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Illustrators collaborate with WordPlay students on exquisite corpse project

Some of Cincinnati’s best illustrators showcased their work this past weekend at the opening reception for STORY TELLING: The Fine Art of Illustration.
 
Brazee Street Studios and C|LINK, a website designed to connect local creatives with one another, are presenting the exhibition, which runs through April 4 and features collaborative pieces by eight illustrators and children at WordPlay.
 
“We had our very wonderful willing illustrators start off a drawing of a character, so they made a head or face, and we took them back to WordPlay and let the kids finish them,” says Leah Busch, gallery coordinator at Brazee.
 
WordPlay is a Northside-based nonprofit that provides free tutoring, literacy and creative writing programs for students; but it’s this kind of unique opportunity that sets it apart as an engaging place for an entire community.
 
Tara Calahan King, illustrator, muralist and public sculpture designer, says she was particularly excited to create something students at WordPlay could build on because she’s worked with children for about 20 years and has had the chance to witness many different reactions in response to illustrations.
 
“Usually it’s grand excitement,” she says. “I can only imagine when they first saw the character’s head—their expression—I’m sure there were big smiles on their faces, and just the excitement to complete that figure—the body—and to feel a part of something—to feel that connection between ourselves and them.” 
 
The project was inspiring for the children and the illustrators alike. Christina Wald, who drew a tiger in a top hat, liked her character so much, she’s going to incorporate it into her comics.
 
“How amazing for these kids to be showing with artists like Tara and Christina,” Busch says. “I think Brazee as a whole—that’s part of our mission—to just be really accessible.” 

Do Good:

• View the exhibition at gallery One One.

Support WordPlay by donating or volunteering.

Join C|LINK.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

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