Students Raise Awareness, Engage Community Through Art Initiatives

May 30th, 2014 by Amanda Pierce
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East Franklinton  Photo courtesy Tim Rietenebach

An East Franklinton resident works on a community flag design. Photo courtesy Tim Rietenbach

Social impact was the theme of several community outreach projects completed throughout the course of the 2013–2014 school year.

The multidisciplinary projects engaged students from various majors with community partners to build relationships, provide services, and bring awareness to relevant social issues in and around the city of Columbus.

Flags for Franklinton

Students in Fine Arts Professor Tim Rietenbach’s honors seminar Public Art Community Engagement began a community initiative called Flags for Franklinton.

The goal of the ongoing project, Rietenbach said, is to engage Franklinton residents through art and encourage unity by designing a flag to represent the essence of the community.

Spring semester was devoted to building relationships with community members and soliciting their ideas for a community flag. Flag templates were distributed to community members who were each invited to create a design that they thought represented Franklinton.

In the upcoming fall semester, a new group of students will move forward with the project and eventually create a flag that will be distributed to residents.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the thoughtful energy of this inaugural group,” Rietenbach said.

Student participants included Advertising & Graphic Design juniors Marissa Ohm and Callie Whiteman, Fine Arts senior Esteban Gonzalez, and Fine Arts juniors Tayler Beck, Austin Burnside, and Michael Geiger.


Students work with Professor Michele Hill (left) to create pieces for the “Art Against Bullying” exhibition. Photo courtesy Tyler Dunlavy (CCAD 2014)

Art Against Bullying

Liberal Arts Professor Michele Hill’s Developmental Psychology class worked one-on-one with high school students from Arts & College Preparatory Academy to create raw, uncensored works about their experiences with bullying.

The semester of activities was created in partnership with the You Will Rise Project, a multimedia anti-bullying initiative created by Illustration alumnus Paul Richmond (CCAD 2002). It culminated in a powerful exhibition, Art Against Bullying, that showcased collaborative installation pieces and individual projects.

“We found that everyone was creating art that stated how bullying hurts in a very honest way and how they are healing from the experiences,” Hill said.

Student mentors included Illustration juniors Madeline Miller and Caitlin Watters, Photography juniors Ben Hardin and Chelsea Tanksley, Fashion Design sophomore Kaylene Biddle, Fine Arts junior Kelsey Thackery, and Fine Arts sophomores Austin Burnside and Bethany James.

Shalom Zone Hilltop Drop-In Center

After Fine Arts junior Bethany James and Amber Smith worked with middle and high school students during fall semester as a part of  their Studio Professions class, they decided to continue the relationship they had formed with the Shalom Zone Hilltop Drop-In Center, an after-school program west of downtown Columbus.

The two continued their work as an independent study and decided to engage the students through hands-on experiences in CCAD studios. James and Smith wrote project statements and explored various educational practices to prepare for the students’ visit to campus.

“I think both students were passionate about education as well as working with underserved populations,” said Kelly Malec-Kosak, associate professor of Fine Arts.

In April, students from the drop-in center visited campus for an afternoon workshop. James, Smith, and MFA candidate Rachael Rush worked with the visiting students to create pinch pots and T-shirts.

Malec-Kosak said she hopes the program will continue as a formal course.

“It would be wonderful to formalize both the teaching experience for our CCAD students as well as training in working in diverse populations,” she said.

Beck is from Columbus, OH (Rutherford B. Hayes High School); Biddle is from Wooster, OH (Triway High School); Burnside is from Mason, OH (William Mason High School); Geiger is from Logan, OH (Logan High School); Gonzalez is from Charlotte, NC (Northwest School of the Arts); Hardin is from Columbus, OH (Sandusky High School); James is from Marion, OH (Marion Harding High School); Miller is from Versailles, KY (Woodford County High School); Ohm is from Columbus, OH (Saint Francis De Sales High School); Rush is from Bloomfield, IN (Bloomfield High School); Smith is from Westerville, OH (Central High School); Tanksley is from Bexley, OH (Bexley High School); Thackery is from Westerville, OH (Westerville North High School); Watters is from Columbus, OH (Worthington Kilbourne High School); and Whiteman is from Midland, MI (Herbert Henry Dow High School).

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