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Partnership Abounds with Student Artists and State Agencies

On June 2, the Ohio Arts Council welcomed students, artists, and arts and civil rights leaders to the Rhodes State Office Tower for the opening of the 2017-2018 Ohio Civil Rights Exhibition. Nineteen students presented 39 art works depicting everything from poverty, human interaction, beauty, culture, and nature. Manifest Gallery’s Envision Project and Cleveland Print Room’s Project Snapshot powerfully showcased the voice of young artists through this photography exhibition.

In addition to friends, family, and staff, I had the pleasure of welcoming everyone alongside the Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s Chair Leonard Hubert, Commissioner Juan Cespedes, and Director G. Michael Payton. Juan also serves on the Board of the Ohio Arts Council, and it was his initial idea to bring the two agencies together to share our collective missions to encourage positive human relations, participate in a culture where learning is valued, and support quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

Through Project Snapshot at the Cleveland Print Room, students participated in a 16-week black and white photography program that provided them with the fundamentals of analog film photography. These young people gained experience in the art of analog photography through lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on applications, including performing camera functions, processing 35mm film, and making photographic prints in the dark room, all the while working with professional photographers and artists. The Cleveland students focused on their own self-awareness and identity development by visual storytelling through photography.  

In Cincinnati, Manifest Gallery’s
Envision Project students applied to participate in the program with a simple application of five short questions and submitted a letter of recommendation from their art educator. Students were chosen based on the quality of their application and their willingness to commit to the 16-week project. The Envision Project students met twice a week, devoting one day each week to skill building, instructor demonstrations, lectures, guest speakers, and group discussions. The second day each week served as lab time, giving students an opportunity to process film and/or print images. Critiques of ongoing work encouraged students to begin discovering and developing their individual strengths and interests in the medium of photography.

This partnership is an example of how state government works together and how time and space does not keep us from partnering from one end of the state to the other. The students discussed their work in ways that gives me great hope for the future of our state as they focused on solutions, opportunities, and innovative possibilities that will solve some of the ills we face in our communities statewide each day.

I want to personally thank the team involved in this project, ably led by Ken Emerick, the OAC’s artist programs director. The Ohio Civil Rights Exhibition is on display through next spring, and it is open to the public on the 5th floor of the Rhodes State Office Tower at 30 East Broad Street in Columbus, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Let me know when you plan to visit and I’ll meet you! After the Ohio Civil Rights Exhibition we can walk over and see the current exhibition at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery!

 Until next time,

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

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