ArtWorks News

ArtWorks Honors Outstanding Youth Artist


ArtWorks is proud to announce its top apprentice award has been presented to Pleasant Ridge resident Ella Emanuel, 18, who attends the University of Cincinnati.

Since starting in 2018, Emanuel has been hired as a youth apprentice for seven ArtWorks projects, including the Time Saved vs. Time Served mural and Hear Me Out, a youth-driven guide to voting in Ohio. Her work will also be featured in the ArtWorks V² Gallery as part of the Way We See Ourselves: Telling Stories Through Self Portraits from August 20 – October 16, 2021.

Now in its 25th year, ArtWorks completed its 2021 summer season of Stronger Together, which included eight murals and three community art projects. As part of this work, ArtWorks employed 87 youth apprentices, ages 14 – 21, and 23 professional artists, and the nonprofit is on track to hire 200 youth apprentices and 100 teaching artists in 2021, its largest employment year ever.

The youth apprentice employment program was started when the organization was founded in 1996 under tents in Ziegler Park in Over-the-Rhine. Since then, ArtWorks has employed 4,000 youth apprentices and 3,500 creative professionals to create 14,000 in the arts.

Emanuel received the Biggie Award, named after the late Andrew D. “Biggie” Smith and is given to a talented returning youth apprentice who goes above and beyond on the jobsite. Brent Billingsley, an ArtWorks teaching artist, nominated Emanuel.

“Ella not only possesses the kind of outward talent that deserves such acknowledgment, but her inner-self is saturated with kindness, gentleness, and compassion.” Billingsley said. Emanuel assisted Billingsley on his PAINTED PIECES of TRUTH & SPOKEN WORDS of RECONCILIATION project this spring. “After the first day, it was quite apparent that she was going to be the one leading her peers.”

In addition to her work at ArtWorks, Emanuel supported other community projects including the Black Lives Matter! mural and recently has also joined on another mural project in Avondale where they are helping to render the “Tuskegee Airmen” at a neighborhood park.

“I’ve learned powerful lessons from working at ArtWorks,” Emanuel said. “It’s an honor to be recognized for something I’m so passionate about, which is the arts and teamwork.”


Emanuel will receive a $500 stipend, meet regularly with Colleen Houston, ArtWorks CEO and artistic director, serve as an ArtWorks ambassador and provide input to cultivate the apprentice program.

Those interested in becoming a youth apprentice are encouraged to check the ArtWorks website for openings throughout the year.

“Every year ArtWorks recognizes one outstanding young artist, and Ella is extraordinary” Houston said. “She’s taken advantage of every opportunity at ArtWorks and beyond, seeking mentorship opportunities outside of the workday, as well as giving back to the community.”


About ArtWorks

ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that transforms people and places through investments in creativity. The organization collaborates with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations and nonprofits to build creative works of art that bolster the region’s global reputation as an arts destination. ArtWorks employs professional artists who inspire and mentor diverse teams of youth, ages 14-21, helping them build 21st century career-readiness skills. These teams have completed more than 14,000 public and private art projects in its 25 years, including more than 200 permanent outdoor murals. Learn more at