The Empowerment People Feel When They Are Included - 10 Questions with Kate and Kenny Rouh of RouxArt
The City of Jacksonville, through its Art in Public Places Program as administered by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, maintains a permanent public collection of more than 115 artworks and memorials throughout Duval County. For those who may not be familiar with the term "public art," public art refers to art in any media, including murals, sculpture, memorials, integrated or landscaped architectural work, photography, digital media, and mosaics, that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain. Public art is most impactful when it is site-specific, meaning it has been designed in response to the place and community in which it resides. It can be a powerful tool to communicate the history of a place, its people, and even address social or environmental issues. Because it is public, the art is free and accessible to everyone.
Of the City's collection, no piece may be more iconic than "Mirrored River: Where Do You See Yourself." Created in 2015 along Jacksonville's Southbank, "Mirrored River" is a tile, mirror, and pebble mosaic of the St. Johns River. For an especially enchanting experience, view the artwork at sunset to be engulfed in a combination of soothing colors as both the skyline, river, and surrounding blue lights reflect off the mirrors and enhance the blue and green tiles that create the artwork. Examine the piece with a closer eye and hidden within it you will find five quotes about the St. Johns River.
"Mirrored River" was designed by Kate and Kenny Rouh, who are also known as RouxArt. This wife and husband duo have made a name for themselves by creating works that are accessible to the public and accentuate Jacksonville's visual landscape. What makes their projects even more impactful is that they always invite residents and visitors of Jacksonville to participate in the creative process. When creating "Mirrored River," during a span of 42 days, more than 70 community members participated in creating the mosaic that is 64 feet in length and 7 feet in height.
Art is a Spiritual Practice - 10 Questions with Filipino American Visual and Performing Artist Grace Bio
Grace Bio is an Filipino American illustrator, graphic designer, mixed media artist, and performing artist. Born in Key West, Florida, she was raised in a Navy family and traveled extensively until she and her family settled in Jacksonville in 1991. After graduating high school, Bio spent time attending Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) and Flagler College.
Since 2006, Bio has performed and exhibited her visual art throughout the United Sates. Starting in 2012 and continuing for nearly four years, Bio served as the Art Director for Education Through Entertainment and Art Partnerships, a Jacksonville based education company that provides students with educational instruction through project-based music and film production, technology training, and language arts. By making use of a curriculum rooted in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), students are taught to develop the social, critical, and technological abilities that are required for collaborative and innovative progress. Her work as a graphic designer was featured in a series of educational children's books which have been utilized by educators nationwide.
Bio's work has a strong, visual signature of urban culture, while also being poetic and evocative. Through her work, she brings awareness to the modern world while also paying tribute to the people and traditions of yesteryear. In 2018, Bio had work on exhibit as part of "Living History: A Cultural Mosaic" and "Writing On the Walls," both exhibits at the Jacksonville Public Library's Jax Makerspace Gallery.
10 Questions with Visual Artist, Art Educator, and Director of Art in Public Places, Christie Thompson Holechek
Christie Thompson Holechek is a third-generation native to Jacksonville. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Florida (UNF) and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studio and Theory from Portland, Maine's Maine College of Art.
For the past 18 years, Holechek has served Jacksonville in leadership positions including arts administration, secondary education, and youth arts programming with a mission to make arts and culture accessible to all. Since 2010, she has held the position of Director of Art in Public Places (APP), the City of Jacksonville's Percent for Art program that is administered by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Holechek is also an adjunct professor in 2-D Design and Drawing at her alma mater, UNF, and maintains an active studio practice.
Community Building Through Public Art - 10 Questions with Art Educator Amanda Holloway and Students of James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Middle School
Earlier this month, a dynamic collective of local businesses, artists, educators, and community leaders teamed up to facilitate a community driven public art project on the exterior façade of Knopf & Sons Bindery, located at 1817 Florida Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32206. The 150’ mixed-media mural, appropriately named Dream Big, is on an exterior wall along E 8th Street, which receives heavy foot traffic due to its proximity to a JTA bus stop and heavy vehicle traffic due to its proximity to on-and-off ramps for the Martin Luther King Jr Parkway.
The mural, which was designed by students from James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Middle School and their art teacher, Amanda Holloway, was inspired by Taylor Richardson, a 7th grade student at The Boles School who has aspirations of becoming a scientist, engineer, and an astronaut. Richardson recently raised over $100,000 through a crowdsourcing campaign to sponsor 1,000 young girls to see Disney's “A Wrinkle in Time” in theaters at no expense.
This public art project is in support of STEAM, an educational approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The team behind Dream Big, which in addition to Holloway and her students includes Roosevelt Watson III, Nadia Ramoutar, Ryan McNair, Scotty Briggs, and Cheyenne Williams, was in-part inspired after attending a 2017 keynote presentation by artist and community alchemist Lily Yeh, which was included as part of State of the Arts 2017, presented by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.
Engaging With and Learning From My Community - 10 Questions with Multimedia Designer, Animator, Illustrator, and Professor of Digital Media Marq Mervin
Marq Mervin is a multimedia designer, animator, illustrator, and Professor of Digital Media at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ). Mervin's work and advocacy centers around providing marginalized and underrepresented groups with multiple points of access to education and professional development opportunities in the field of art and design. He is a member of Jacksonville's chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), a professional association for design. Mervin also serves on AIGA's national Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which is composed of 21 members from 16 different cities. Within this task force, Mervin chairs the Education and Community Committee. He and his fellow committee members explore partnerships with educational institutions and community and minority-based organizations interested in design education, diversity, and inclusion.
In 2016, Mervin led a TEDxFSCJ talk titled "Represent! Diversity and Equity in Arts Education." During this talk, Mervin recalled his own experiences as a young black men pursuing a degree in the arts and recounts how limited diversity amongst teaching faculty impacted his self confidence. It took Donivan Howard, a black animator with esteemed professional credits, to interview for a position at Jacksonville University for Mervin to see himself represented in his desired field of work. It was this representation that reinforced Mervin's belief that he could pursue a career as an artist and succeed.
I Want to Challenge Myself and Go as Big as the World Will Let Me - 10 Questions with Photographer and Curator Khalil Osborne
At only the age of 20, emerging photographer Khalil Osborne exhibits a high level of ambition. When he was 15, Osborne was given his first camera from a friend. It was a Sony Cyber Shot. He started taking pictures and posting them online through social media. Soon he became known by others in his school as the kid with the camera.
Aspiring for more than a retail or food industry job when he was a teenager, Osborne harnessed his passion for photography and in 2015 he secured a job at Cady Studios. With more than two years of professional experience behind him, Osborne works as a portrait photographer through the family owned school photography business. In his free time he continues with camera in hand, setting up shoots with his peers to add to his growing body of work as a visual artist.
Don't be foolish enough to make assumptions about Osborne because of his young age. His maturity and the professional demeanor with which he conducts himself leave most surprised when they find out he just recently broke free of his teenage years. This young man is constantly pushing himself and challenging any constraints that are placed on him, which is perhaps one of the reasons he isn't satisfied being a one-disciplined artist. In addition to photography, Osborne is an event curator and he has started an independent brand of t-shirts and apparel.
Retro Futurism - 10 Questions with Graffiti/Contemporary Artist and Graphic Designer Mark "CENT" Ferreira
Mark "CENT" Ferreira is a graffiti/contemporary artist and graphic designer who lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida. His body of work has a strong orientation towards typography and geometric shapes, incorporating traditional graffiti letter forms and characters but often with a fresh take. CENT's color palette includes a signature teal that serves as a continuous thread woven throughout his portfolio of work. This signature color is reflective of the ’80s, but also feels evocative of Jacksonville. Working predominantly in aerosol, CENT's work exhibits influences of mid-century modern design and comic books.
CENT was born in Connecticut. As a child, his family traveled to Southwest Florida every summer to vacation. Eventually summers weren't enough for the family and they relocated to the Sunshine State in 1989. CENT's father built their family home in the Naples area. CENT remembers the area feeling too pristine and he often romanticized about living in a gritty metropolitan area.
Sara Nahid was born in Ahvav, Iran. Nahid was exposed to the arts at an early age and she recalls her mother providing her with a paint set when she was about 10 years old. After completing secondary education in Ahvaz, Nahid enrolled in the prestigious Tehran University of Art, Iran's largest art university. There, Nahid pursued her passion for art by studying painting and sculpture. While enrolled as a student, Nahid shared her passion with a younger generation by teaching painting and ceramics to pre-school children.
Unfortunately, Nahid's education only lasted two years. She unenrolled from university after her father-in-law was imprisoned in an Iranian jail, and later died. Fearing for their safety, she and her husband fled from Iran to Turkey. Once settled, Nahid worked in a restaurant but continued to paint, although obtaining supplies was difficult. She and her husband lived in Turkey for five years and it was during this time that she converted to the Bahá'í faith, a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Nahid, her husband, and their young son came to the United States in 2016.
Nahid both loves and is critical of her culture. Her work deals with her experiences as a woman in Iran and her transition to the US. Now living in Northeast Florida, she has a deep desire to move from a place of isolation into a community of belonging.
Location, Pose, and Lighting - 10 Questions with Hip-Hop Emcee and Action Figure Photographer Arsun F!st
D'Angelo Samuels was born into a Navy family in Panama, a country that bridges Costa Rica and Columbia. Samuels was introduced to comic books in 3rd grade after his father brought home issues that he read while on deployment. It was through these colorfully illustrated pages that Samuels learned how to read. He still remembers the first comic book that he read from cover to cover, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Volume 8, in which Spider-Man found the alien symbiote that gave him a black costume that would eventually become Venom and then later Carnage.
While attending middle school in Hawaii, Samuels delved deeper into his love of comics, evolving from a reader to a collector. It was at this time that he also started competing with a break dancing crew, which introduced him to hip-hop. As a freshman at South Carolina State University, Samuels eventually stepped up to the mic and developed his artistry as an emcee. In 2006, He signed with Domination Recordings, an Orlando based record label, and released four albums before the label dissolved in 2010.
On November 29, 2010, Jacksonville native Melody Jackson was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, a slow growing benign tumor that develops on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. Branches of this nerve directly influence your body's balance and sense of hearing. As the tumor grows, it creates pressure that often results in hearing loss, ringing in your ear, dizziness, and loss of balance.
Jackson underwent her first surgery to remove the tumor on May 25, 2011. Going into the surgery, Jackson thought that she'd be free to return to her normal life once the tumor was removed. The damage was done, however, and even after surgery, hearing didn't return to her right ear. Jackson continued to suffer from vestibular imbalance as well as nystagmus and oscillopsia, two visual disorders. She also received the additional diagnosis of chiari malformation, structural defects in the base of the skull and cerebellum - the part of the brain that controls balance.
As a result of these maladies, Jackson's day-to-day life was impacted beyond measure. She began to feel like life was imploding. Jackson was no longer able to drive and tasks like standing and walking were impossible without the aid of a rolling walker, which restricted her mobility even further.
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