ArtWorks News

Bold mural depicts Walnut Hills from ‘the people’s perspective’

ArtWorks is pleased to present Perspectives, a bold, colorful mixed media mural designed by Mz. Icar, an anonymous interdisciplinary art collective, comprised primarily of Black women. Their name is a reversal of racism, and their visuals celebrate black iconography, culture, expression, and joy.  You can see their newest public art installation at the historic Dillard Building located at 791 East McMillan Street in Walnut Hills. A community mural dedication is scheduled Mon., Oct. 17 at 4 p.m.

ArtWorks invited Mz. Icar to create Cincinnati’s first photo-based, mixed media mural, as part of the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial (“World Record”). “ArtWorks has been proud to produce many signature public art installations for FotoFocus over its 12-year history. This year we were excited to identify an inspiring artist collective Mz. Icar, to create groundbreaking new permanent public work for FotoFocus. It has been a longtime dream to create a photo-based mural,” said CEO and Artistic Director Colleen Houston.

Mz. Icar created a design that does this and goes even further, with an art experience that is dynamic and engaging. After downloading the app, Artivive, visitors can hold up their camera or tablet which will then ‘activate’ the entire mural off the wall, into a 3-D image, with an accompanying audio experience to hear stories from Walnut Hills residents, both old and new

“We here at the Dillard Center are excited and honored to be involved in such groundbreaking technology,” said longtime resident Dr. Charles Dillard.

Mz. Icar designed the mural on McMillan Street (best viewed from the parking lot at McMillan and Copelen) from a ‘people’s first perspective,’ researching and interviewing many who have vested interests in the neighborhood, including longtime residents with a legacy such as Kathryne Gardette and Dr. Dillard, a long-time resident, and alumni of Fredrick Douglass school. Walnut Hills resident, Black entrepreneur, and Co-Founder & CEO of Mortar, Allen Woods shared the lessons of perspective he gained from photography and how he applies them to his endeavors as an artist, community leader, and teacher. Woods’ hand and camera are displayed prominently in the mural composition. Jay Hill, a graduate of Walnut Hills High School, shared the deep legacy of P-Funk and Afrofuturism in Cincinnati. Hill is depicted wearing Bootsy Collins-type glasses.

“We had the pleasure of experiencing Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills from a ‘people’s first perspective’. It was eye-opening to learn about the history of the area, the legacy of the people, and the hopes for the future that people have. We sat down and chatted with people who are vested in the area and learned about their hopes and dreams and aspirations for the future. ‘Perspectives’ was inspired by those discussions,” said Mz. Icar. “One of the things that all the people we chatted with have in common is this graceful way of pushing walls, moving boundaries, and widening the worlds in which they live. We tried to depict this in the mirror through composition and placement. People are creating enriching experiences for themselves as well as the people around them and that is something that we saw throughout Cincinnati.”

Their hope is that this mural is a continuation of widening the way in which we tell stories, hold history, and imagine the future. They pay homage to the foundation of Walnut Hills, and those who are in service to one another, suggesting a future Walnut Hills is moving towards.

To complete this ambitious project, ArtWorks hired seven local artists including Anissa Pulcheon to lead six Youth Apprentice Artists to paint the mural in an indoor ArtWorks studio on ‘parachute cloth’, a fabric that is primed, painted, and applied to the wall with gel medium. Mz Icar traveled to install the cloth mural and add printed photo elements, as a collaged installation.

ArtWorks is delighted to share Perspectives with Walnut Hills as this project is unveiled during the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial. ArtWorks also invited Mz. Icar to submit a proposal and participate in this year’s BLINK.  Learn more about ArtWorks’ many projects in the area by visiting

About ArtWorks

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, 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.