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.
What Do You Think Of When You Think Of Community, And What's One Thing That You Can Do To Build A Better Community?
During Public Art Week 2018 - Building a Better Community, we went out into communities and asked two specific questions:
What do you think about when you think of community?
What's one thing that you can do to build a better community?
We compiled some of the answers into the following videos.
Public Art Week (PAW) is an annual, week-long initiative that celebrates Jacksonville’s public art and highlights the benefits that are created when investments are made in art that is accessible by all. It is led by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville to encourage residents and visitors to explore and engage with works of art that comprise Jacksonville’s rapidly developing artistic and creative landscape. In addition to advancing the community’s awareness of, and engagement with, the City of Jacksonville’s official public art collection, PAW also showcases public art initiatives led by private entities and individuals.
PAW supports the Cultural Council’s role of ensuring broad accessibility and public engagement with the arts culturally, socially, educationally, and economically. It also supports the Cultural Council’s role of advocating for public and private financial support for Jacksonville’s arts and cultural sector.
This year PAW was presented by JEA and the theme was Building a Better Community. We partnered with 25 different organizations to present programming throughout Jacksonville's diverse neighborhoods. Our partners included:
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.
Today, individuals and organizations who support the arts have traveled from every state to Washington, D.C. for the 31st Annual Arts Advocacy Day: The Arts Action Summit.
These arts advocates represent a united effort to tell Capitol Hill that the arts play a vital role in our communities, that arts education is important to our children, and that the arts improve our daily lives.
While we, unfortunately, could not be there in person, we do support their efforts and are there in spirit. But, we know that we don't need to be in Washington, D.C. to make a difference, and neither do you! Your advocacy matters and there are ways to help from your home cities and states.
Here are some ways, as recommended by Americans for the Arts, on how you can take action today.
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.
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