ArtWorks News

ArtWorks’ New Monuments initiative reimagines monument landscape in the Greater Cincinnati Region

Photo by Carlynne Welch.

CINCINNATI, Ohio (Tuesday, January 24, 2023) – ArtWorks, Cincinnati’s leader in public art, announces the launch of New Monuments, a yearlong artist and community engagement initiative that aims to foster dialogue and imagine new public monuments that celebrate and affirm the historical contributions of the many diverse communities and individuals that make up Cincinnati.

ArtWorks is employing a team of 10 teen and young adult artists (ages 18 -24) in a year-long civic design studio led by local artist Asha White. In 2022, ArtWorks expanded its programming, building on its well-known seasonal summer and afterschool employment to add full-year employment opportunities for young artists. This project is a part of ArtWorks’ strategic plan to provide year-round employment for artists of all ages.

The Civic Artist Studio team is developing a community engagement plan that will launch this spring. Follow for a calendar of events and to participate. The entire community is invited to share memories of inspiring individuals or events that make Cincinnati what it is today – a diverse community. The artists will document community input to be considered for new public monuments either temporary or permanent.

“It is our hope that this project will inspire the creation of new monuments from diverse artists celebrating our community,” said Colleen Houston, CEO and artistic director of ArtWorks. ArtWorks plans to continue to fundraise to support the creation and fabrication of new public monuments. ArtWorks’ focus for this project is on equity and inclusion. Houston wants to inspire a new generation. “At ArtWorks, we are committed to involving young artists in public artwork and community engagement, and as a result, we are building civic leaders and advocates for our future who will uphold inclusion and collaboration,” Houston said.

Artworks is asking the community what contemporary monuments should be. What should our future monuments look like and what should they represent?

Civic Artist-in-Residence, Asha White is a practicing artist, curator, and active member of Black Art Speaks. In addition to being the ArtWorks Civic Artist-in-Residence, Asha is obtaining her master’s in art education at University of Cincinnati DAAP. She also has a background in gender and women’s studies, communications, and public relations.

“My vision for the Civic Artist Studio is to facilitate learning opportunities that work to strengthen the Civic Studio Artist’s social justice art practice. This work will lead them through the process of self-reflection, community listening, and research on the current state of monuments including their history and evolution, which will culminate in the sharing of the knowledge obtained through visual reflections and a written report,” White explained.

Karla Batres Gilvin, ArtWorks Director of Community Impact added, “We want to illuminate community voices by creating monuments that are important to those who live and work around them. We have a history of hosting community conversations and creating murals throughout the region that capture what residents love most about living here.”

New Monuments enables the community to think outside the box about what a monument should look like and where it should be located.

Support for this project has been provided by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation. ArtWorks has engaged the support and input of community leaders to help guide the progress of this initiative. The advisory committee is comprised of leaders in the business, government, social welfare, and education sectors of our region.

New Monuments Advisory Committee Members

Shauna Murphy, Assistant Superintendent at CPS, Office of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships and Director

Marin Emanuel, Multimedia Creator, ArtWorks Youth Apprentice Alum

Kathy Nardiello, Co-Founder and Committee member of ArtsWave Pride & Regional Manager in the Industrial Manufacturing vertical at Oracle Corporation

Maria Seda-Reeder, Wavepool Director of Exhibitions and Artist Support Initiatives

Caitlin Behle, Director of Community Leadership at Design Impact

William P. Umphres, Ph.D, The incoming Director of the Center for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation, Assistant Professor, Educator School of Public and International Affairs University of Cincinnati

Jackie Congedo, Chief Community Engagement & External Relations Officer

Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center

Rod Walton, Director of Operations at Cohear, Interim CEO

Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives & The Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History

April Gallelli, Program Manager, Hamilton County Community Development

Jennifer Spieser, Executive Director, Cincinnati Parks Foundation

Michael Coppage, Conceptual Artist, & Lead artist, Black Art Speaks

Alandes Powell, Visionary/Co-Owner, Black Art Speaks

Rosie Polter, Cultural Resource Consultant

More information about the initiative is available by contacting Karla Batres Gilvin, Director, Community Impact, at 513-333-3600, ext. 11, or by email at

Who We Are

ArtWorks creates community-based public art that provides career opportunities for artists of all ages. Since 1996, ArtWorks has collaborated with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations, and nonprofits to build creative works of art that built 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.


About the New Monuments Initiative

Monuments make a public statement about the ideas, values, or individuals a community thinks their society should remember or honor. ArtWorks, along with partnering community organizations, will work to ensure that Cincinnati’s statement is one of equity, justice, and truth-telling. The New Monuments initiative will aim to reimagine and rebuild commemorative spaces that celebrate and affirm the historical contributions of the many diverse communities that make up the United States. New Monuments can take the form of prototypes, outdoor art exhibitions, and mixed media materials. They are more than memorials, historians’ markers, and public statuary, but also storytelling spaces, and civic spaces to gather and make meaning. Through this work, ArtWorks plans to host public dialogue and reflection and recenter voices, stories, and narratives to include those who have often been denied historical recognition to inform the creation of new monuments in Cincinnati.