The Denison University Studio Art department is excited to partner with the Greater Columbus Arts Council and Denison’s inaugural Columbus Creative in Residence, Marshall Shorts, to bring a public art project featuring Columbus artists to campus this spring. The murals, which will be displayed in three outdoor locations near Curtis, the Bryant Arts Center, and Herrick Hall, as well as inside the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts, feature artists’ responses to and desires for racial justice.

On June 1, 2020, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police and the resulting protests, CAPA and the Arts Council partnered to launch #ArtUnitesCbus, an initiative to employ Columbus-based visual artists to paint murals on the plywood installed over the broken windows at the Ohio Theatre and the Arts Council office. Other businesses throughout the city joined in and by the end of June more than 200 murals had been created on plywood throughout the city.

The murals have been displayed in locations in and around Columbus, including the Short North, Easton Town Center, the Maroon Arts Group’s MPACC BoxPark, Capital University, and elsewhere. The murals’ messages range from support for Black Lives Matter, to tributes to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, to messages of love and hope. These exhibitions are one component of public art and visual expression for a new aspirational racial equity campaign, Deliver Black Dreams, led in partnership with Maroon Arts Group by Denison’s Columbus Creative in Residence, Marshall Shorts.

The murals installed on campus were selected by the students participating in Short’s mentorship class this semester. They reflect Denison’s commitment to open dialogue about social justice, community activism, and the arts.

Shruti Shankar, a student in Shorts’ mentorship program reflects on the impact of the murals on campus, “Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum and these murals provide an opportunity to respond and reflect on our roles in society.”

She adds, “At Denison, a predominantly white institution, the visual and the texts of the murals act as ways to uplift and center BIPOC experiences and the installation process becomes a way to collaborate and create community with those similar to and different than each of us. This is important work because it allows for recognition and validation of traditionally marginalized voices. Mickalene Thomas stated, ‘To see yourself and for others to see you is a form of validation.’”

Sophie Boyages, another student in Short’s mentorship program, states of the mural their group selected — found outside Curtis East, “I respond most strongly to the image in black and white with the quoted phrase from Alice Walker, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for.’ This image is representative of multiple meanings, and is overwhelmingly a call for action and participation to speak up and stand up for what we believe to be right and just.”

Studio Art Chair, Sheilah ReStack, states, “Bringing these murals to campus provides a connection for students to the Columbus community, as well as a space for reflection on current and historical events through the medium of artmaking. We are so happy to have these works by Columbus artists in response to a call for justice and equality. They embody arts crucial role in articulating voice through image.”

Another student in Short’s mentorship class, Edem Dake, states, “I also believe that art as a means for conversation starters and provoking thought is always welcome. I am proud to be a Denisonian in this moment and proud to be a part of this season of change.”

Featured artists include:

  • Schaeffer
  • Rosa Rumora
  • Hakim Callwood
  • Peter Franz
  • Caeleigh Featherstone
  • Jade Davis
  • Anonymous
  • Promise McLeod

The murals will be on display through the end of April.

March 25, 2021