CINCINNATI—ArtWorks’ Youth Apprentice program has added a new project, Face Masks for Heroes, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the organization’s first-ever remote project.
Every year, ArtWorks’ Youth Apprentices are typically seen creating art through painting murals, playing music with MYCincinnati, or sewing hero capes for children in crisis through their Hero Design Company. The nonprofit hired artist Lindsey Whittle to virtually lead 15 apprentices in a special edition of Hero Design Company to complete over 700 face coverings rather than hero capes this May.
“We have adapted with the times.” said Colleen Houston, ArtWorks CEO. “The capes have always been meaningful, but it’s nice to respond to a new calling; shifting our focus and catering to new demands of our society.”
Sewing kits including fabrics and sewing machines were dropped off at the apprentices’ homes. The apprentices had multiple check-ins and teachings by Whittle over the course of 4 weeks but were encouraged to “be their own boss” meaning the remote workday was flexible for their creativity. The face masks were crafted with care, designed to maximize protection, fit, and comfort based on the recommendations of the CDC, infectious disease researchers.
In addition to the masks, the Youth Apprentices conducted research and experimented in areas of interest. Some conducted research in different ways to make masks and experimented with materials and fabric scraps to create masks displaying their individual creative talents. While others explored the effectiveness of different kinds of masks in providing protection or examined the emerging opposition by some to wearing masks at all.
“I was really interesting on how masks has affected politics and society,” said Apprentice Chelsea Lee. An apprentice-led presentation on the creation process and mask research can be found on the ArtWorks website.
The team provided protective face masks to organizations and community members – or in other words heroes– throughout the Greater Cincinnati area including the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, La Soupe and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati.
“The masks from ArtWorks youth apprentices have been a bright token at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House.” said Jennifer Loeb, Executive Director of Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House. “This donation helps protect families with medically fragile children living at our house.”
Remaining masks were sold on the ArtWorks website for $12 a piece until they were sold out. For $20 per mask, individuals were able to purchase a mask for themselves and allow ArtWorks to donate an additional mask to a local hero on their behalf.
ArtWorks continues to be able to provide programming for youth ages 14-21 through their latest campaign, The Apprentice Promise. Board member and former CEO Lauren Hannan Shafer is matching all gifts up to $50,000. To contribute to the promise, visit their website here.
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.