CINCINNATI—A new series of murals that recognize important leaders in Avondale’s history who fought for civil rights are now on view, thanks to ArtWorks and the Avondale Development Corporation (ADC). The mural series, Pillars of Cincinnati, will be dedicated at a public celebration on Thursday, May 18, 2–4 p.m. at the Hirsch Recreation Center, 3630 Reading Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45229.
Featured on the murals are treasured community heroes Fred Shuttlesworth, Theodore Berry, Marjorie B. Parham, Fanny Graff, and Artie & Annie Matthews. ArtWorks partnered with Urbanist Media, a community preservation cooperative, to identify these notable Avondale figures and corresponding site-specific mural locations.
The mural locations create a walking trail intended to create connectedness among residents and institutions, a larger goal of Avondale’s Quality of Life Plan. The murals were designed by Lead Teaching Artist Nytaya Babbitt and were created with the support of Teaching Artist Taylor Helms, along with six apprentices (teens and young adults 14–21 years old employed for the project). Most of those apprentices were from the Avondale community.
“It was an honor for ArtWorks to create this meaningful tribute within Avondale,” said Colleen Houston, ArtWorks CEO and artistic director. “We hope the trail becomes a point of pride and the murals, a focal point in the community. This project will inspire more people to learn about the accomplishments and legacy of these community leaders we remember.”
The May 18 event is free and open to the public (registration is requested but not required). It will kick off with Music from MUSE, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, and includes art-making and light refreshments. Starting at 2:30 p.m., ArtWorks and project partners will briefly speak, and the event will conclude with an optional Pillars of Cincinnati Walking Tour of several of the mural sites led by Anne Delano Steinert, Assistant Professor Department of History at the University of Cincinnati from 3–4 p.m.
ArtWorks has partnered on a variety of projects with the Avondale community since 2011. Fifth Third Bank’s support of ArtWorks and the Avondale Development Corporation, along with ongoing support from ArtsWave, The City of Cincinnati and the Ohio Arts Council, brought this project to life.
Who We Are
Since 1996, ArtWorks has collaborated with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations, and nonprofits to build creative works of art that support the Greater Cincinnati region’s global reputation as an arts destination. ArtWorks has employed and trained over 3,500 professional artists and 4,000 youth, ages 14–24. We invest in our creative economy by creating jobs that support local talent, pairing professional artists to inspire and mentor diverse teams of youth, and helping them build 21st-century career-readiness skills. Over the past 26 years, this collaborative approach has created a citywide gallery with more than 14,000 public and private art projects, including more than 250 permanent outdoor murals.