ArtWorks News

ArtWorks Partners with Community for New Mural Honoring Jewish Culture

CINCINNATI—ArtWorks is proud to partner with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati to present a new mural celebrating Cincinnati’s Jewish heritage, designed by New York-based Artist Jessica Tamar Deutsch, whose work explores the pulse of ancient tradition within contemporary culture. The mural will be located on the west-facing wall of the Thomas Morrow House, 124 W. 9th Street in downtown Cincinnati, owned by Jennifer and Steve Hogeback, near the Isaac M. Wise Temple on Plum Street and City Hall.

The mural, titled “Let There Be Light,” will transform Deutsch’s hand-painted design into a large-scale display. Inspired by Jewish ritual objects and traditional art, this contemporary design creates the feeling of looking at a tapestry or ketubah, woven with symbolism. Featuring rich blues, oranges, and greens, the piece includes imagery from iconic Jewish buildings in Cincinnati, Hebrew lettering, and objects representing Jewish Cincinnatian contributions. The design celebrates Jewish Cincinnati’s culture, values, and history. The mural will include a plaque with a QR code leading to a website with more detailed explanations.

The idea for the mural emerged during Jewish Cincinnati’s Bicentennial in 2021 and is part of ArtWorks’ Cultural Mural Series, which also includes the “Love Wins” mural created in partnership with Cincinnati Pride, the Cuban cultural mural “Azúcar!” in OTR, and the Indian Mandala mural in Walnut Hills.

A team of 14 ArtWorks Apprentices and Teaching Artists Hannah Parrett, Kenton Brett, and Monte Jones have begun working on the mural and will continue through early August. The work is being painted on a special fabric, parachute cloth, which will later be adhered to the wall with industrial strength adhesive which mimics the mural being painted directly on the building, ArtWorks has successfully used this long-lasting technique many times. Installation will likely occur in September and ArtWorks and its partners are planning a public mural dedication celebration this fall.

For this project, a community Mural Design Committee was created to gather input and direction from a wide range of Jewish civic leaders in Cincinnati. The group includes representatives from ArtWorks and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati as well as Debbie Brant, Tamara Harkavy, Miriam Hodesh, Councilmember Mark Jeffreys, Frances Kahan, Pam Kravetz, Abby Schwartz, Jenna Shaifer, Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp, and Rabbi Gary Zola, Ph.D. Additional support for this project is provided by the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

“Cincinnati’s 200-year-old Jewish cultural history deserves to be celebrated, and what a beautiful way to do so with this mural. We hope this project will instill a sense of pride within the Jewish community and help tell the story about the many positive contributions we have made in Cincinnati,” said Felicia H. Zakem, Chief Planning Officer, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

“The goal of this mural is to help build cultural bridges and enhance cross-cultural understanding. With rising rates of antisemitism, we believe public art can educate, raise awareness, and foster connection. The mural’s creation will involve both Jewish and non-Jewish artists and youth, promoting cultural understanding,” said Sydney Fine, ArtWorks’ Senior Director, Impact, and a volunteer and board member of Cincinnati’s ish board. “All of our cultural murals align with ArtWorks’ commitment to celebrating diverse cultures and inclusive partnerships within Cincinnati.”

About the Artist
Jessica Tamar Deutsch earned her BFA in illustration from Parsons School of Design, where she began her first published book, The Illustrated Pirkei Avot. Deutsch’s work is the response of following curiosities, and a longing for meaning to hold on to. Deeply inspired by the Jewish Renewal movement, much of her work attempts to respond to the idea of ritual being a different experience for each of our ancestors. She asks: how can we welcome newness into our spiritual practices to create a personal relationship with The Divine? Deutsch has participated in the Art Kibbutz residency program, the LABA fellowship at the 14th Street Y, and was included in The Jewish Weeks’ “36 under 36” in 2018. Deutsch has experience working with young adults at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute, in Simi Valley, California. In 2016 she instructed a month-long studio workshop for 20 participants to tap into their unique visual art expression. She has worked at The New Shul with middle school students, where she taught a visual art Jewish study class in 2014–2016. Deutsch has been invited to communities and conferences globally to share her process and development of The Illustrated Pirkei Avot.

About ArtWorks
Since 1996, ArtWorks has collaborated with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations, and nonprofits to create works of art that have helped to define Greater Cincinnati’s global reputation as an arts destination. Its mural program has made Cincinnati the #1 City for Street Art in USA Today’s 2024 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards. By employing and training over 3,500 professional artists and engaging 4,000 teens and young adults, ages 14-24, ArtWorks is actively investing in the creative economy. Through job creation that supports local talent and mentorship programs that pair professional artists with diverse teams of young people, their programs foster the development of 21st-century career-readiness skills. ArtWorks has created a vibrant citywide gallery with more than 14,000 public and private art projects over the last 28 years. Among these are more than 300 permanent outdoor murals that contribute to Cincinnati’s rich cultural tapestry, enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

ArtWorks partners with Hamilton County and Talbert House for seasonal apprentice funding. It also receives ongoing support from the City of Cincinnati, the Ohio Arts Council, ArtsWave, and individual donors.