PORTSMOUTH — Watch Me Grow Ohio, a local agriculture organization in Portsmouth, has announced a dynamic public arts project to empower local residents and transform community spaces.
Appalachian Visual Poetry is a brand-new initiative that partners local artists with local poets to create a series of vibrant murals highlighting the diversity and talent found within Appalachian communities. Murals will explore themes of culture, heritage, identity, self-expression, and more. With funding support secured from Portsmouth Area Ladies, this project is scheduled to begin in April, with its first round of artists and poets already selected.
Watch Me Grow Ohio Co-Founder and Project Creator, Amanda Lewis, has been organizing creative partnerships with participants from various backgrounds, prioritizing those from marginalized groups.
“There’s a lot of incredibly talented people in our community that haven’t been able to take part in large-scale public arts projects, for a number of reasons,” said Lewis. “That’s why we’re so excited for this one. It gives those people the chance to take up space and demonstrate their abilities.”
Lewis, along with fellow WMGO trustee and former City Councilman, Edwin Martell, will begin interviewing participants for second round selection in the coming weeks.
“Public art is very important for individuals who feel they have no voice,” said Martell. “I’ve always felt that public art can be used to inspire people, transform spaces, and give opportunities to showcase different cultures, which are vital to the growth of our community.”
Funding received from Portsmouth Area Ladies will help offset the cost of artist fees and supplies for the first round of murals.
“We want to be able to support new and emerging local talent, so we’re funding these projects in their entirety,” said Lewis, “We want our participants to be able to focus solely on their work, without worrying about how they’re going to pay for it.”
This project has already gained support from several local businesses and community organizations that include Portsmouth Area Ladies, Beulah Baptist Church, Trinity Business Group, and the Portsmouth Little Theatre, who have donated funding support and space for mural installation. Aaron Wagner, Vice President of Operations at The Counseling Center, has also offered several areas for installation at their facilities.