Architecture firm engages Covington students to add graffiti to Pike Street

Ben Eilerman says he realized his love of architecture during his adolescent years at Covington Catholic High School. 

As a professional in the field at Hub+Weber, he has the opportunity to engage in educational outreach with other students who have that same appreciation for art at the same age he did.

Hub+Weber’s latest venture, which not only engaged students in artmaking but also gave them real-world experience, involved Holmes High School’s graffiti club and visual communications class. 

Located in Covington since the firm’s founding nearly 40 years ago, Hub+Weber relocated for the first time last year. Though it maintained its roots in the area, the firm moved from its old home on Greenup Street to the city’s former train station on Pike Street. 

“Behind it are the old passenger stairs up to an elevated rail line, and that area is largely abandoned,” Eilerman says. “[It had] that kind of urban decaying aesthetic to it that we were drawn to, and we wanted to use that space and address it from our standpoint, and then also to start to make the city aware of it.” 

So Hub+Weber reached out to the Center for Great Neighborhoods, who put the firm in touch with Donny Roundtree, the visual communications teacher at Holmes. 

“We talked to him and saw that this was a great opportunity to bring his students down and do a real-life project and build it into something bigger, as far as his curriculum goes,” Eilerman says. 

So the two joined forces to provide students with the opportunity to create an eight-foot by 16-foot graffiti art mural. 

“The students explored different techniques so each of the panels read as an individual panel, and as it draws into the center, it starts to be defined more as a singular mural,” Eilerman says. “It has the background of the Covington skyline across the back, and then it has two trains coming out of the center from a tunnel with the word ‘Pike’ in the middle.” 

Eilerman says the area surrounding Pike has undergone a renaissance over the past few years, so the firm wanted to find a way to contribute by livening up the area while also reaching out to a local school district. 

The mural is currently on display inside the building, and a week ago, the students showed off their work at a gallery opening hosted by Hub+Weber. They received feedback from local designers who gave advice about what it means to “take the arts into a profession,” Eilerman says. 

This month, the mural will inhabit its permanent home—below the underpass where it will be visible from the sidewalk and street for all to see. 

“They spent about six months or so on this,” Eilerman says. “We really acted as a client—they brought the sketches and they talked about what their vision was, and we talked about what ours was, and they had to mesh that. They had to provide a proposal for their work—and I think it was a big benefit to the students.” 

Do Good: 

• Support the arts in your local school district. 

• Support Holmes High School's Nordheim Gallery.

• Like Hub+Weber on Facebook

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 
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