Saturday, October 2, 2004

Art motivates teens

Mural outside Longworth Hall a testament to creativity and ability to get a huge task completed

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

DOWNTOWN - On the surface, the 25-by-50-foot outdoor mural at the Longworth Hall parking lot is a nature-themed mosaic made with glass and tiles.

Students, faculty, school representatives and contributors celebrate the public recognition of a 25 x 50 outdoor mural near Longworth Hall.
(Enquirer photo/CRAIG RUTTLE)
Look closer, though, and you might see the hopes and dreams of 10 Cincinnati Public Schools students once considered at risk of not graduating.

The mosaic, unveiled Friday, is the first student project developed through a partnership between the school district and the Cincinnati Arts & Technology Center, based at Longworth Hall and sponsored by the Cincinnati CAN Commission.

The center offers a hands-on arts and technology curriculum to juniors and seniors recommended by their counselors or principals. Students attend weekly classes in addition to their regular coursework and receive credit toward graduation.

Ten students were asked to return over the summer to work on the mural. The project took 10 weeks and three days to complete.

"To actually come and look at it, it's like, I did that?" said Marguerite Winn, 17, a senior at Withrow High School.

Lee Carter, chairman of the Cincinnati Arts and Technology Center Board, described the piece as "a metaphor for the transformation of life."

"What we're really here to celebrate is the power of art to change lives for our children," he said Friday.

Of the students who participated, six are in college, three are in high school and one has entered the work force.

"For the children, it's a tangible experience that just stretches them to do things that they never could have imagined," said Superintendent Alton Frailey. "They can no longer say that they've done nothing."

The project, which consists of 30 4-by-4-foot flowers, cost $30,000 and was funded through donations.

"I cried when I saw it finished," said project manager Linda Carol Schneider. "I cried of happiness."

Plans are under way for the program to continue. The 2005 summer project will take on a water theme in the same parking lot on a concrete slab.

The mural is now a permanent fixture under the railroad tracks on West Pete Rose Way.

"I hope you'll be able for the rest of your lives to say, 'See that flower? I did that when I was 17,' " Carter said to the students.

For information, call (513) 562-5500.



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