in partnership with Empower Youth
Community Studio is a free public art program we developed in partnership Empower Youth, a local non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with children “in hopes of instilling in them the confidence and resources needed to break through the chains of generational poverty.” Since 2015 Empower Youth’s food bags and mentorship programming have provided vital resources for Bethel’s at-risk youth, and our Community Studio Program now extends the organization’s mission to include new pathways to cultural resources as well.
Our arrival in Bethel coincided with Empower Youth’s acquisition of a 15-acre former horse ranch. In April of 2017, a local bank, Community Savings, gifted Empower Youth the foreclosed property, and The Empower Youth Ranch (or EY Ranch) has since become home to the organization’s operations and an active community hub. When we arrived in Bethel in June, Empower Youth’s directors, Lori and Scott Conley, generously offered us space in one of the property’s barns for our proposed programming. Over the course of the next month and a half and with the help of Empower Youth’s network of hard-working volunteers and interns, we created the Barn Studio.
The Barn Studio, now the site of our Community Studio Program, is a safe space for exploring new ideas in the heart of Bethel. The program, which had its first session from July through October of 2017, offers local residents of all ages a dedicated time and place for creativity. We believe everyone is an artist and our Community Studio participants are encouraged to consider themselves artists regardless of background or training. Through guided projects and prompts, Community Studio artists are invited to investigate place while taking inspiration from relevant examples of contemporary art practice. Projects are carried out using a variety of materials, including those found on the ranch, and the process of making helps participants connect more deeply to their home and one another.
BHS Collective (official name forthcoming)
in partnership with the Bethel Historical Society and Museum
This summer we invite area teenagers to participate in an art collective we are facilitating in partnership with the Bethel Historical Society and Museum. Participants will examine Bethel’s rich history and use art to connect with their own identities while imagining a hopeful and healthy future for themselves and for the village of Bethel. Collective activities will include research using the museum’s collections, making art that will be displayed on a billboard on State Route 125, and will culminate in a gallery exhibition at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
in partnership with Northern Kentucky University, the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement (at NKU), and Newport Independent Schools
The Newport/Bethel Project is an exciting new program we are offering in partnership with Northern Kentucky University, the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement (at NKU), and Newport Independent Schools. We have teamed up with Steven Finke of NKU’s Spatial Arts Department to create this unique opportunity for high school students in Newport, KY and Bethel, OH to make art in NKU’s sculpture studios. Together we will research the histories of Newport and Bethel, reaching across historic borders and calling attention to the area’s complex history of abolition and segregation while inviting dialogue between those of urban and rural experience. Participating students will use sculpture and performance to understand the two sites and ask important questions about history, identity, and place. The resulting artwork will then be exhibited at both sites, inviting the local communities to participate in the conversation.
Learn more about SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing: