CINCINNATI— ArtWorks just completed its 25th season creating public art projects in the Greater Cincinnati Region. The artistic workforce development nonprofit hired over 100 youth to work under the direction of professional teaching artists this summer. At the end of every summer cycle, each teaching artist nominates a high-achieving apprentice for the organization’s Biggie Award. The Biggie Award, formerly known as the Andrew D. Smith Award, is presented to a talented, returning youth apprentice who goes above and beyond on the jobsite.
The award is officially described as follows: The Biggie Award is given to a returning Apprentice who has proven themselves as a role model to their peers; who is dedicated to making a real difference in their community through their contributions; and who has shown a commitment to the arts and their future. Ultimately, their dedication to ArtWorks goes above and beyond, and their future in the arts—whether through a pursuit in the field or through their involvement—is guaranteed.
This year, Madisonville resident, LaDe Richardson, was awarded the prestigious prize. Richardson has worked for ArtWorks as an apprentice since 2017 mastering projects ranging from murals to hero capes with Hero Design Company, showcasing his well-rounded talents.
“Being recognized as this year’s Biggie Award winner is the absolute best thing,” Richardson said. “I am so grateful to ArtWorks; I just cannot express that enough. Without being hired, my life would have been something completely different. This experience is one of my treasures. ArtWorks has helped me take care of my family, created a safe and friendly place to fit in and work with others. I have had many opportunities to improve myself and help people. Being a youth apprentice has created a lasting impression that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can’t wait to reapply for next summer!”
Local artist Lindsey Whittle taught Richardson on two separate projects this year. She nominated him for the award. “I think LaDe embodies everything we hope for our apprentices—high level of professionalism, engages the community, natural leader, hard-working, all why being incredibly kind and optimistic.” she said.
As part of his award, Richardson will receive a $500 stipend, meet regularly with ArtWorks CEO and artistic director, Colleen Houston, serve as an ambassador to ArtWorks, and provide input to cultivate the apprentice program.
“I am so proud of LaDe’s dedication to our organization and its mission over the past three years,” said Sydney Fine, ArtWorks senior director of Impact. “His positive attitude, punctuality, teamwork, and steadfast enthusiasm not only make him shine, but these traits positively impact our community.”
ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that transforms people and places through investments in creativity. The organization provides youth, ages 14-21 with the majority from underserved households, with competitive 21st century career readiness skills through mentorship by professional artists. Since 1996, ArtWorks has employed more than 3,600 youth and 3,200 creative professionals, and the organization has completed more than 12,500 public and private art projects that includes 190 permanent outdoor murals, contributing to the region’s global reputation as an arts destination. Learn more at ArtWorksCincinnati.org.