By Jill E. Dunne
Sr. Director of Marketing and Communications
Cincinnati Art Museum
A new series of murals that recognize important leaders in Avondale’s history who fought for human rights are now on view, thanks to ArtWorks and the Avondale Development Corporation (ADC). The mural series, Pillars of Cincinnati, was dedicated at a public celebration on Thursday, May 18, 2–4 p.m. at the Hirsch Recreation Center, 3630 Reading Road, Cincinnati, 45229.
Featured on the murals are treasured community Civil Rights heroes Fred Shuttlesworth, Theodore Berry, Marjorie B. Parham, Fanny Graff, and Artie & Annie Matthews. ArtWorks partnered with Urbanist Media, a community preservation cooperative, to identify these notable Avondale figures and corresponding site-specific mural locations.
The mural locations create a walking trail intended to create connectedness among residents and institutions, a larger goal of Avondale’s Quality of Life Plan. The murals were designed by Artist Nytaya Babbitt, and were created by Teaching Artist Taylor Helms, along with six youth apprentices (teens and young adults 14–21 years old employed for the program). Most of those apprentices were from the Avondale community.
“It was an honor for ArtWorks to create this meaningful tribute within Avondale,” said Colleen Houston, ArtWorks CEO and artistic director. “We hope the trail becomes a point of pride and the murals, a focal point in the community. This project will inspire more people to learn about the accomplishments and legacy of these community leaders we remember.”
The dedication kicked off with Music from MUSE, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, and includes art-making and light refreshments. The event concluded with an optional Pillars of Cincinnati Walking Tour of several of the mural sites led by Anne Delano Steinert, Assistant Professor Department of History at the University of Cincinnati.
ArtWorks has partnered on a variety of projects with the Avondale community since 2011. Fifth Third Bank’s support of ArtWorks and the Avondale Development Corporation, along with ongoing support from ArtsWave, The City of Cincinnati and the Ohio Arts Council brought this project to life.