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Composite image of all projects.

New Public Art Greets Students and Visitors on Ohio’s College Campuses

Across the state, classes have resumed for the fall. On college campuses in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo (Perrysburg), and Youngstown, students and visitors have been greeted by several new public art installations—three completed by Ohio-based artists. 

The projects are the result of the Ohio Arts Council’s Percent for Art program, which facilitates the creation of works of art in public spaces across the state. The program provides funds for the acquisition, commissioning, and installation of works of art for new or renovated public buildings that receive state capital appropriations of $4 million or more.   

Learn more about each project below.  

Cleveland State University 
Location: Ronald Berkman Hall  
Artist: Dante Rodriguez, Cleveland, Ohio
Name of Work: “Nebulae” 

Completed in June of this year, “Nebulae” is a painted sculptural work by Cleveland State alumnus Dante Rodriguez—a 2003 graduate of the university’s studio art program.  

The work is housed on the second floor of Ronald Berkman Hall, known until 2018 as Main Classroom Building. It was renamed to honor retiring university president Ronald Berkman. Centralized on CSU’s downtown Cleveland campus, the building is a busy academic hub for the university, housing the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Honors College. 

The full installation is comprised of three sculptural elements, each measuring more than 20 feet long and nearly six feet tall. Much like a puzzle, these larger elements were created by putting together between 120 and 150 smaller, individual pieces. These smaller pieces are made of wood, gesso, and fabric, which he then painted with iridescent automotive paint.  

Rodriguez’s inspiration for the sculpture was the academic energy of its future home. In his description accompanying the work, he wrote: 

“The installation is the artist’s personal reflection on the exchange of ideas and energy that activates and brings a college campus to life. The characteristics of murmuration bring to mind how students move through space on a college campus. We ‘flock’ in large groups, friends and strangers alike, to feel a sense of belonging and security. After classes, we gather in small groups in the hallways to share notes or catch up on each others’ lives.” 

See more of Rodriguez’s work on his Instagram.  

Columbus State Community College 
Location: Outside of Mitchell Hall 
Artist: UrbanRock Design, Los Angeles, California
Name of Work: “Vortex” 

“Vortex” was installed in May of this year. It’s the work of artist-architect duo Jeanine Centuori and Russel Rock of the award-winning, Los Angeles-based UrbanRock Design.  

Situated along Cleveland Avenue near downtown Columbus, “Vortex” is a sculptural work cut and constructed from fabricated aluminum. It’s comprised of two wave-like structures running parallel to each other, leaving room to walk in between and experience the work up close.  

When creating public art, UrbanRock “explores stories about specific places, and always searches for what is special and unique about the site.” In “Vortex,” the design duo fused the past and the future: 

“Each wrapping wave has identifiable words connected with themes. Mt. Vernon’s community past is represented in the collection of place names and qualities, while Columbus State [Community College] and the opportunities of education are shown through verbs of action and growth. Together, they are the blending of the history of the community and futures to be discovered in education.” 

As the sun moves across the sky, the shadows of the words are projected onto the ground.  

Learn more about UrbanRock Design and see more of their work at urbanrockdesign.com/.  

Owens Community College  
Location: Library and Learning Commons 
Artist: Joel O’Dorisio, Bowling Green, Ohio 
Name of Work: “Rising Sun” 

Housed in the Owens Community College Library and Learning Commons in College Hall, “Rising Sun” is the work of Ohio artist, glass blower, sculptor, and educator, Joel O’Dorisio. 

The work is part of the college’s restoration of College Hall, the original home of the library before it was moved to its own space in 1994. On Monday, August 29, 2022, Owens held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the library’s return to this revitalized space. In addition to the library, it will also support student learning with the inclusion of study rooms and tutoring. In an interview with NBC24 News, Owens President Dione D. Sommerville said, “It really is a transformation to a learning commons, where students have access to lots of learning resources.” 

Situated at the front of the Library and Learning Commons, "Rising Sun” is an installation of 140 hand-blown glass lamps suspended from the atrium’s lofted glass ceiling.  

“Rising Sun” is representative of the renewed space and the goals of the Owens’ students. O’Dorisio—currently a faculty member in Bowling Green State University’s School of Art—wrote of the work: 

“’Rising Ssun’ represents the hopeful dawn of a new day. A gently flowing ribbon of unique, hand-blown glass pieces flows through the lofted corridor. The color scheme will transition smoothly from the deep amethyst of pre-dawn to the golden light of early morning. The theme represents the goals of the students matriculating at Owens, as they explore developing careers ready to emerge into the world.”  

Learn more about O’Dorisio and his work at joelodo.com/

Youngstown State University 
Location: Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center's Excellence Training Center in Kohli Hall 
Artist: Jaime Kennedy, Copley, Ohio
Name of Work: “Ideation” and “Brick by Brick (Progress)” 

In mid-2021, construction was completed on the new 54,000-square-foot Excellence Training Center (ETC) in downtown Youngstown. The project was part of the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center (MVICC), a partnership between Youngstown State University and several regional educational and manufacturing partners.  

The goal of the partnership is to meet the region’s growing high-tech manufacturing needs through educational training programs and the creation of an ecosystem to support career development. At the center of this ecosystem is the ETC, which houses advanced manufacturing equipment and a foundry. Thanks to the wide-ranging partnership, its programs and other learning opportunities will be open to many K-12 students, college students, and professionals.  

Housed within the ETC are two new photographic murals by Kent State University School of Visual Communication Design faculty member Jaime Kennedy.  

Kennedy uses digital construction to create printed photographic narratives, combining illustration, sculpture, photography, and text. In his creation of the ETC murals, he wanted to honor the Mahoning Valley’s past as a manufacturing hub and celebrate its future as a center for advanced technology in a reimagined manufacturing sector.  

Learn more about Kennedy and see more of his work at www.kent.edu/vcd/profile/jaime-kennedy. Read more about how Kennedy created each mural at www.kent.edu/vcd/news/professor-wins-commission-public-art-displays

View a virtual tour and learn more about the Excellence Training Center at ysu.edu/excellence-training-center

 

Article by Andrew Paa, OAC Communications Strategist 
The featured photo is a composite of all projects.  



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