“A Letter to my Body”
Photo By, Nikki Nesbit
“I love the Art Academy because I’ve been introduced to some of my best friends that I’ll keep forever and I’ve come across all walks of life the past 4 years I’ve attended. I look at art from all different perspectives now because of critiques and hearing the many different opinions of my peers.”
Brittany Walker is an African American photographer born in Long Beach, California and raised in Toledo, Ohio. Her photography started off being predominantly street photography, further gravitating towards portraits of people. She really appreciates the beauty in people, and wants to share this beauty with her audience. She also enjoys fashion photography because she believes fashion and models are a representation of beauty and set beauty standards. She wants her photos to represent all kinds of people, especially those with darker skin complexions because for so long “we have been told we aren’t beautiful and are undesirable to the world”. She aims to inspire others and make a difference with her photos by representing people who feel like they can’t conquer a field dominated by people who claim they have no value.
Celedric Reddick is an African American artist born in raised in Dallas, Texas. His main area of focus is digital art/design. His work tends to range depending on how he feels, and can vary with what he would like to learn next. In order to heighten his versatility and knowledge of art, he’d like to learn as many forms and styles of artistic practice as possible.
“I like being around the diversity in art and creativity that the Art Academy brings. Going to school here have me more freedom to experience different types of people and the type of work they make, this helps me to not strictly think in a design manner. Being a student and an employee of the school helps me to open doors as well as improve my experience in the work field.”
The Art Academy of Cincinnati hosted a full day of service to community members through the mission of Help-Portrait, a collective that brings photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, and volunteers together to serve people in need. On December 2, the AAC served over 100 Cincinnati residents via donation of luxuriating, life-affirming personal services, resulting in professional portraiture and photographs given to people who cannot afford such amenities.
The AAC Help-Portrait Site Coordinator, Andrea Bacca contacted leaders of the Help-Portrait movement to enlist the expertise, time, and resources of AAC students, faculty, and staff to mobilize the movement’s core mission: “to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local community.” In 2008, Help-Portrait began as an idea that transformed into a movement in just three months. The idea behind Help-Portrait is simple: 1. Find someone in need; 2. Take their portrait; 3. Print their portrait; and 4. Deliver their portrait. The AAC is pleased to join community sites around the world in this mission.
Local Partnering Non-Profit Organizations:
Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition; Our Daily Bread; Over-the-Rhine Kitchen; Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce; Over-the-Rhine Community Housing; Over-the-Rhine Recreation Center; Peaslee Neighborhood Center; Seven Hills Community Center; St. Francis Seraph Ministries; Talbert House; Tender Mercies; Walnut Hills Kitchen & Pantry; and YWCA.
About Help-Portrait:Celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart formed Help-Portrait, a non-profit organization, in 2008 as he contemplated using his skills and expertise to give back to those who may not have the opportunity for a professional photo. The idea is that a photographer has the unique ability to help someone smile, laugh, and return their dignity. It is a movement, a shift in photography. From Bangalore, India to Ghana, Africa to Ubuntu, South Africa to Chukotka, Russia, the language of Help-Portrait crosses cultural and socio-economic barriers. Visit www.help-portrait.com.
Bruce Bennett is an African American photographer, born and raised on the south side of Chicago. His work speaks and focuses on African-American culture and experiences. On the South Side, these experiences involve socio-economic disadvantages, a lack of good paying jobs, little access to education, racism, and a cycle of poverty that’s hard to break. His work also discusses his own life as a transplant in Cincinnati. Bruce wants to present his audience with the kind of experiences that have molded the person he’s become. Utilizing identity, politics, the gaze, and his perceptions of the world, he primarily used self- portraits to open up the audience’s perspective while discovering the true Bruce Bennett.
Ezra Cline, a freshman at the Art Academy, spent his summer working with ArtWorks to craft light-based kinetic sculptures for the BLINK parade. The team created three floats, a rabbit head, a top hat with rotating faces, and a flower train. Ezra also led mask-making workshops for the parade. We sat down for some coffee and talked about life at the Art Academy and his summer of BLINK.
Hey Ezra, so how’s school going, is college life all that you dreamed it would be?
It is all that I dreamed. Being a freshman is pretty fun at the Art Academy. I’ve always wanted access to all these supplies and resources that were just unavailable to me in high school.
Yeah and you’re a bit of a night owl, aren’t you? Have you been spending a lot of time in the building since it’s open to students 24 hours?
Yep, it’s so nice. I get everything done here at night, and very early in the morning, and sometimes I’m here for no real reason at all.
Haha, well maybe you can help me out with a potential series I’m wanting to do at the Academy. The school can be a pretty interesting place at night and I want to try and capture that. I’m thinking of calling it, “Night Owls” or “Nightcrawlers”.
Oh yeah, that’s when all the cool people come out.
So we met in 2016 when I was your teacher on the “New Lines” mural series with ArtWorks. I remember during some routine icebreaker question we asked, “What do want to do for your career”. I believe you said you were thinking about becoming an engineer, but you also mentioned that you find yourself going through a constant identity crisis. So I’ve just been curious about what made you decide to pursue art?
Well, I think everyone should be going through an identity crisis all the time, especially when you’re deciding to be an artist. I’ve flip-flopped between engineer and artist for a lot of my life and honestly, the choice was sort of made for me when I decided not to put much work into my mathematics. Kind of process of elimination but I would say that it was definitely more of a choice.
Do you have an idea of what your focus will be here at the Art Academy?
Major wise I think I’m going to be doing more sculptural things. I think I identify as a maker more than an artist or an engineer.
Cool, let’s talk about Blink then.
Yes, let’s talk about BLINK.
Were you excited when you found out you were placed on the BLINK project?
So much. That was my number one. I was looking at the list of projects and BLINK was one of the only non-mural projects, but also something that was really freaking cool. It was exactly the sort of work that I want to do.
At that time I was working for ArtWorks and was a part of the team placing students to the projects. I remembered the intricately detailed cardboard sculpture you created the summer before of the New Lines studio. I have to say it was a no-brainer to place you on a sculptural project.
Yeah, it’s always good to put a little bit of cardboard into people’s mouths to convince them to hire you.
Cardboard in the mouth, that’s a great strategy.
So there were three BLINK floats?
Yes, we ended up creating a rabbit, a top hat with faces, and a flower train float.
How did you come up with the idea for the floats?
The first week of the BLINK project was dedicated to ideation and planning. We were each given a different copy of Alice in Wonderland to draw inspiration from, but we all wanted to move away from that. You can still see the influence of it in the floats but we tried to take it beyond that.
An apprentice named Joey, that ended up leaving for another job, had actually come up with the idea for a floating rabbit head and I fell in love with it. So after he left I decided that I really liked this idea and I had to convince the group that this was one of the floats we needed to start building. So I took a photo of his sketch, and that night I created a model of the rabbit head. I brought it to work the next day and that propelled the project into the direction of the rabbit.
Sounds like you put some cardboard in their mouth?
Yeah, just put some cardboard in their mouth. Just fill their heads up with cardboard, that’s the sales pitch.
The rabbit also has mechanics to it, right? Was that difficult to figure out?
We were hired to create three-dimensional kinetic sculptures that would move down the street in the dark and delight people on the sidelines. We had to introduce elements of animation and mechanics to it so it was more of a puppet. It’s a weird line we kind of blurred between sculpture and puppet.
We made it so the rabbit head can move its eyes around, flap its ears, and open the mouth. All the wiggle room that we needed to kind of make it wiggle. Those words didn’t make sense.
The wiggle room to make it wiggle, it makes sense to me.
The rabbit head was originally static and as we were working with the materials, PVC piping and sheet plastic, the movement just sort of happened organically. It was a learning process, we didn’t know what we could get those materials to do or move like, so it all happened on its own.
The rabbit head was yourself, Abigail Smart, and Grayson Draper?
Yes. Abigail ended up switching over to the hat project.
The Hat float is wild. Do you have a favorite?
It’s hard to pick a favorite of the three floats. We built a giant rabbit head, the hat float, which is a top hat with an exquisite corpse-like face element to it. All the rings on the hat rotate to create different faces. The last one is a flower train, which was the biggest one, longest one, and hardest one to execute.
What parts are being illuminated?
We designed them to basically be giant lanterns. Illuminating the whole sculpture with an ambient glow allowed us to focus more on the mechanics of the float.
How are they moving? The last time we talked there were a few ideas out there.
Inside the rabbit head, we were planning on having a wheelchair. One person would sit in the chair and be the puppeteer while another could push the chair to navigate. As the weeks went on we realized that we were not going to get a wheelchair. In the heat of the moment, Grayson and I chopped up an old shopping cart that we found.
So how is it moving now that you’re using a chopped up shopping cart, is it being pulled?
The whole thing is on caster wheels and we’re pushing it from the inside.
Oh, so sort of like a Flintstone car?
Yes, we’re Flintstoning it.
Who will be inside the rabbit head?
I think it’s just going to be me and Grayson in there.
What was the most challenging part of working on this project?
The most challenging part of the project was experimenting with different materials and fixing problems as they arose. If a pipe buckled we would need to fix that on the spot and fix it in a way that wouldn’t damage the rest of the structure. Plastic wasn’t the easiest material to work with but it was an efficient and a cost-effective way to construct really amazing looking floats.
Alright so let me ask you an obvious question to follow up, what was your favorite part of the project?
The first time that we put the float on wheels. When we attached it to the casters and got it moving it was loads of fun. The whole team gathered around to see. It was sort of funny but also surreal. There was a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
Sort of a proud parent moment?
It was like witnessing my kid’s first steps.
I asked you earlier what made you choose art as a career path, so what made you go with AAC?
I took a tour a couple years ago and looked into the different studio and shop spaces and kept thinking “wow I could do so much with all the resources in this building”. That was the primary factor. I spend a lot of time planning projects but never got to execute them, I think being in this environment where I can come in 24 hours a day to work on stuff in those studio spaces is just a dream come true.
To view more photos from the event, click here.
The Art Academy of Cincinnati announces two new transformational scholarships: the Carson E. Smith Scholarship and the William E. Villa Scholarship. Smith and Villa were both graduates of the Art Academy of Cincinnati and remembered the school in their end-of-life plans.
William E. Villa enrolled at the Art Academy in 1963 and studied drawing and painting, sculpture, visual techniques, graphic design, art history, and color theory. While a student, he worked as a photography lab technician. As a graduate, he began his career as a television news photographer for WKRC. He filmed, edited and produced local news stories.
In 1970, just four years after graduation, he moved to San Francisco and worked in the production of secondary school educational films. He was a television production specialist for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and a recipient of a national HUD photography award.
In 2000, he made his home in Kula, Hawaii. Photography served him well in his profession. Throughout his life, he stayed connected to his creative, artistic side, especially regarding the Art Academy training in graphic design and color theory. He continued to paint and draw; he created stained and fused glass. Just before his untimely death in 2010, William had plans to create an art studio.
Carson Smith graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1957 with a degree in Design and Portraiture. As an Art Academy student, Carson met William Henschel, an Art Academy instructor and Rookwood Pottery artist, who recognized Carson’s talent and helped him get a summer job at Rookwood Pottery that lasted for many years both before and after his service in World War II. He earned the Purple Heart for his service to his country during the Okinawa invasion.
His career embraced beauty. He created intricate three-dimensional designs for cigarette cases, pocket watches, and cosmetic cases. Smith was known for his designs at Wadsworth Watch Case Company and Helena Rubenstein Cosmetics. It was not unusual to see celebrities and royalty using items he designed.
His most notable design was the Cadillac emblem – a shield with traditional figures of heraldry. While the emblem has evolved over the years, his design is still the foundation of what Cadillac continues to use.
Until his retirement in 1990, Carson worked as an interior designer at Greiwe Interiors, where he was recognized with a national award for the original Pigall’s restaurant in downtown Cincinnati.
The Scholars Celebration, October 3, 5-6:30 at the Art Academy, will recognize significant scholarships and the students who receive them. Art Academy students received financial support from
- AAC Alumni Scholarship
- AAC Portfolio Awards
- John E. & Mary Ann Butkovich Scholarship,
- Cincinnati Art Club Scholarship,
- John Fisher/Leonard Sive Traditional Painting Scholarshp
- Franklin Folger Memorial Trust
- Gary Gaffney/Jacqueline Wollman Award
- Omer T. Glenn Scholarship
- Edie & Charley Harper Scholarship
- Helms Trust Purchase Award
- Fannie Isidor Scholarship
- Carolyn & Julius Magnus Family Award
- John & Judy Ruthven Scholarship
- Carson E. Smith Scholarship
- William E. Villa Scholarship
- Bertha Langhorst Werner Scholarship
- Stephen H. Wilder Scholarship
Art Academy 2017 Scholarship Recipients are
- Andrea Bacca, Bristol,VA
- Cody Bechtol, Cheviot, OH
- Caroline Bell, Turpin Hills, OH
- Bruce Bennett, St. Paul, MN
- Kaitlin Burke, Hudson, OH
- Lauren Castillo, Greensboro, NC
- Mandy Clements, Greenville, NC
- Madison DeAtley, Loveland, OH
- Joseph DiMario, Cincinnati, OH
- Taylor Dorrell, Westerville, OH
- Claire Flath, West Chester, OH
- DJ Gathers, Madisonville, OH
- Zach Gibson, Covington, KY
- Sydney Greene, Union, KY
- November Hardy, Madisonville, OH
- Sam Holloway, Carmel, IN
- Jen Horsting, Loveland, OH
- Abriljoanna (April) Huerta, Fairfield, OH
- Aubre Lightner, Evanston, OH
- Noel Maghathe, White Oak, OH
- Nicole McClure, Tulia, TX
- Hailee McElroy-Herin, Clifton, OH
- Nikki Nesbit, Newport, KY
- Jack Nichols, Madisonville, OH
- Sabrina Pachla, Warren, MI
- Cecilia Padilla, Fairfield, OH
- Hannah Parker, West Price Hill, OH
- Audrey Patterson, Mount Juliet, TN
- Cody Perkins, Hebron, KY
- John Platt, Walnut Hills, OH
- Sydney Rains, Covington, KY
- Tez Robertson, Over-the-Rhine, OH
- Kane Sargent, Lucasville, OH
- Carly Simendinger, Lebanon, OH
- Vera Thornbury, Price Hill, OH
- Tiffany Tran, Verona, WI
- Savannah Vagedes, Ludlow, OH
- Sophia Velasco, Fisher, IN
- Julia Waldorf, Fairfield, OH
- Taylor Wellman, Amanda, OH
- Mal Wesley, Over-the-Rhine, OH
- Harris Wheeler, Lexington, KY
- Althea Wiggs, Lexington, KY
- Lindsay Wiles, Blanchester, OH
- Andre Wilson, Westwood, OH
- Katelyn Wolary. Wilmington, OH
What is National Portfolio Day: Thinking about going to college for art? National Portfolio Day is a great way to find out your options! National Portfolio Days serve a variety of purposes. Most importantly, they help further the development of young artists by bringing together experienced college representatives to review artwork, and offer critique. You’ll hear many different opinions about your portfolio in one place who share a powerful commitment to the arts. This experience is a small taste of what attending a professional art program can be like. To find out more about National Portfolio Day, please visit the National Portfolio Day web site.
What to Bring: Please bring finished pieces, work in progress, and sketchbooks. We ask you to bring your original artwork whenever possible. We suggest that you do not spend time and money matting or framing your work. If you would like to show some work digitally, please bring your own laptop with a self-contained power source as there will not be computers or outlets at each representative’s table.
Here’s where we’ll be:
Sunday, September 24 | Atlanta, GA | Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at GW
Saturday, September 30 | Indianapolis, IN | Herron School of Art and Design
Sunday, October 1 | Dallas, TX | School of Visual Arts
Sunday, October 8 | Cleveland, OH | Cleveland Institute of Art
Sunday, October 8 | Minneapolis, MN | Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Saturday, October 14 | Memphis, TN | Memphis College of Art
Saturday, October 14 | Milwaukee, WI | Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
Sunday, October 15 | Chicago, IL | School of the Art Institute
Sunday, October 15 | Nashville, TN | Watkins College of Art, Design and Film
Sunday, October 22 | Boston, MA | Lesley University College of Art and Design
Sunday, October 28 | Kansas City, MO | Kansas City Art Institute
Saturday, October 28 | Richmond, VA | Virginia Commonwealth University
Sunday, October 29 | Grand Rapids, MI | Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State
Sunday, October 29 | St. Louis, MO | Washington University
Sunday, November 5 | Philadelphia, PA | Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Saturday, November 11 | Charlotte, NC | Kansas City Art Institute
Sunday, November 12| New York, NY | Fashion Institute of Technology
Saturday, November 18 | Washington, DC | Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at GW
Sunday, November 19 | Baltimore, MD | Maryland Institute of College of Art
Saturday, January 20 | Miami, FL | New World School of the Arts
Sunday, January 21 | Sarasota, FL | Ringling College of Art and Design