ArtWorks News

Emerging Artists selected for ArtWorks’ Jump Start

ArtWorks is proud to announce the seven artists selected for Jump Start, a new program for emerging local artists. Each project will receive $5,000 as a project stipend with additional project support from ArtWorks and 10 youth apprentices, ages 14-21, starting this summer.

“At ArtWorks, we want to support artists as change agents in our community, which is why we started Jump Start,” said Colleen Houston, CEO and artistic director. “We’re committed to lifting new and diverse voices from our artistic community and give this rising talent the support to thrive here. I’m enthusiastic about each of these artists and how their new projects are responsive to the challenging present moment. They will help bring us all together.”

The Artists

Artists Erika NJ Allen and Maggie Lawson will create When Life Gives Us Lemons, a series of site-specific meal performances, which will incorporate ceramics, installation and a resource guide in response to the hardships of COVID-19. As a collective call to resilience and resource-sharing, they will engage with various parts of their community including other women artists, immigrant families at Casa Paz, Lawson’s extended family and local food small businesses. Allen will create custom edition lemons for each participant, and Lawson will design a menu that accentuates the bitter taste of lemons with locally sourced produce. Each meal will include facilitated conversation and a series of activities to confront the unique challenges each group faces with a time for sharing coping strategies. In response to these discussions, the artists will use their backgrounds in zine making, drawing and photography to create an artistically designed resource guide that will include participants’ stories, recipes and coping strategies.

Batres Gilvin, an artist collaborative, will curate and facilitate Give A Minute Cincinnati, a physical and digital space where Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati community members can share creative knowledge with one another in the form of one-minute videos. This project seeks to demonstrate everyone has something they can teach and something they can learn from their community. The physical aspect of this project will take the form of an open studio space where community members will be provided with filming and lighting equipment and general supplies. These learning videos that will spark curiosity and creativity will be posted online on a project website and social media. The artists hope this project will safely bring together diverse audiences that would otherwise never interact due to socio-economic differences, geography and COVID-19. There will be a final culminating event and celebration.

Artist Jay DeFazio will produce Inside Out: Greater Cincinnati, a hybrid art empowerment and visibility project for the transgender community. It will consist of multiple in-person workshops to create a self-portrait and the permanent online exhibition of the portraits. The project’s goal is to unify and connect the community of Cincinnati through the creation of positive self-image and shared experience of growth and acceptance. Too often transitions take place alone where they can be lonely, awkward and frightening. This project brings together unique perspectives of a shared experience, fostering a sense of kinship and appreciation between members. DeFazio will capitalize on Cincinnati’s wide variety of trans community organizations to represent the widest range of transgender experience.

Artist ninamdot will produce King Me Indefinite, photo images of local Cincinnati Black males wearing crowns, which will be printed on HD metal and installed as public art. The goal of the project is to honor and celebrate the Black men photographed, as well as the communities they come from. Wells hopes that through her art, Black men in the community will see themselves as kings, amplifying the concept of “what you see is what you become.”

Artist Kailah Ware will produce Before The Street Lights Come On, a photo and video installation in the West End that takes a deep dive into the cultural nuances of Black boyhood in Cincinnati. It is a view into the joys of Black childhood, as well as the danger that Black youth experience, directly confronting the over-adultization of Black youth. The project will use the oral tradition of community storytelling to create supporting video and photo visuals. These stories may be about first loves, first fights, old hangout, first encounters with the police and more. Beyond the installation, Ware will publish these stories online, so anyone can engage with these images and stories.

More About Jump Start

Jump Start was created as a response to the Cincinnati Artist Report (CAR), recently released by Wave Pool and ArtWorks. Each Jump Start artist selected has completed Wave Pool’s Driving Lessons, a weekend intensive professional development program for artists that offers training in budgeting, taxes, marketing, goal setting, negotiation, business management and communications. The program’s focus is on goal setting and skill building for artists to succeed in their career and artistic practice.

In addition to funding, ArtWorks will provide these artists with additional project support around promotion and exposure, studio space, execution assistance and labor from youth apprentices. Projects are planned to be completed by the end of October.

The goal of Jump Start artist selection was to focus on equity and diversity in all forms—including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and age. Of the seven artists chosen, four identify as women and four identify as Black or Latinx.

Find out more about the application process

Jump Start Jury

ArtWorks would like to thank the Jump Start jury for their dedication in selecting the 5 projects: Amara Antilla, senior curator, Contemporary Arts Center; Eric Avner, vice president and senior program manager of Community Development, The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation; Derrick Braziel, managing partner & development director, MORTAR; Amy Goodwin, president & CEO, The Johnson Foundation; and Leila Tamari, senior program officer, ArtPlace America.

Jump Start Supporters

ArtWorks thanks its Jump Start supporters, Lizi and the late Carl Solway of the West End’s Carl Solway Gallery and the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. The Solways gave to recognize and honor the organization’s founder Tamara Harkavy for her 24 years of creative leadership and project development of public art in Cincinnati.

“We recently lost a legend in Carl Solway,” Houston said. “ArtWorks is grateful to Carl for forwarding contemporary art and public art in our community. From his leadership of the iconic Urban Walls murals to the local Julian Stanczak and Nam Jun Paik installations, he built up our region’s arts appreciation and influence. His advancement of the arts in Cincinnati and beyond was amazing, and he will be deeply missed. Being able to honor his legacy by supporting emerging artists is truly a gift.”

About ArtWorks

ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that transforms people and places through investments in creativity. The organization creates jobs for youth, ages 14-21 with the majority from underserved households, providing competitive 21st-century career-readiness skills through mentorship by professional artists. Since 1996, ArtWorks has employed more than 3,600 youth and 3,200 creative professionals, and the organization has completed more than 12,500 public and private art projects that include 190 permanent outdoor murals, contributing to the region’s global reputation as an arts destination. Learn more at