ArtWorks News

Black History Month Highlight: Take to the Water, a Mural Inspired by Frederick Douglass

ArtWorks and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) collaborated in 2021 to create two murals for CVG’s new rental car facility. One of the artists selected to bring vibrancy to this new airport extension was Adrienne Gaither.

Gaither is a visual artist from Cincinnati, Ohio, whose abstract paintings explore various topics, including race, familial ties, emotional health, class, and the politics of geometric abstraction. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Howard University and currently resides in Washington, DC. 

Gaither’s colorful and geometrical proposal for CVG was a standout. The selected design concept is titled Take to the Water, inspired by Frederick Douglass, a prominent American abolitionist and countless enslaved Africans that refused to be the subjects of dehumanization.

”It cannot be that I shall live and die a slave. I will take to the water.” – Frederick Douglass

Take To The Water reflects on the significance of Cincinnati and the Ohio River as a beacon of freedom and passage from one phase of life to another. Based on the architectural interiors and structures of Cincinnati and waterways, Gaither explores color, pattern, and the semicircle into a motif of bridges. Each semicircle responds to the tension experienced when traveling, the feelings of excitement, anxiety, and relief in addition to the imagined possibilities/outcomes associated with reaching our destinations. Learn more about the mural and the team behind it here.


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.