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Gravity Uplifts Project Impacts Frontline Workers and Artists Alike

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Gravity Uplifts Project Impacts Frontline Workers and Artists AlikePhotos via Can't Stop Columbus.
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Can’t Stop Cbus, local artists and community organizations have come together to launch the Arts Hub, an online resource for Netflix alternatives, Zoom backgrounds, masks and inspirational art for those working on the frontline.

It represents a number of arts initiatives the community group, which was created as a resource amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken on in support of Columbus’ creative community.

One of those initiatives is Gravity Uplifts, a project that has hired artists to paint murals, posters and postcards to be put in front of healthcare workers. The project has already installed several cubes with uplifting images and positive messages.

Cubes have so far been installed at Gravity, Genoa Park and The Ohio State University Medical Center East and Campus locations. A fifth cube will be installed at Fourth and Main Streets Downtown.

In addition to assistance from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Create Columbus Commission and arts organizations including Wild Goose Creative, The Vanderelli Room and 400 West Rich, have partnered on creative development of the Gravity Uplifts projects.

Blockfort’s Adam Brouillette says he and a few other people were brainstorming ideas on ways that artists could help out during the pandemic. Can’t Stop Cbus got involved once they started looking for assistance and funding.

Brouillette, 934 Gallery’s Johnny Riddle, Mandi Caskey and A.J. Vanderelli picked the artists for the cube murals, in addition to creating their own. (Riddle’s mural was painted by his partner, Lucie Shearer.)

The impact of the murals almost seems to be as encouraging to the artists as much as they are meant to be uplifting for essential workers.

Thom Glick, who painted one of the murals at the OSU Wexner Medical Center, is an artist, illustrator and part-time instructor at the Columbus College of Art & Design. He says the pandemic has been a little scary for him.

He had a number of projects and events lined up for the next few months, and a lot of things have been canceled, postponed or transformed into something virtual.

“(I’m) kind of just swimming around in my own anxiety right now, looking for ways to use my art to kind of add some positivity,” he says. “If I can add some positivity for other people, it helps me be a little bit more positive myself.”

He says he was excited to learn the cube he is a part of would be installed at OSU.

“I think it’s hard to say thank you enough to all the work that they’re doing on this,” he says. “I’m kind of excited that we’re getting to have some presence right in front of the people we are most grateful to at the moment.”

Another artist, Lauren Carter Best, says she started feeling a little helpless in terms of what she could do to help herself and others. Once Brouillette reached out, she was excited to be a part of the project.

“I feel like I have another sense of purpose during the pandemic and that I can offer something to others, which is my art,” she says.

She says she didn’t want to put a completely positive spin on what was happening. As a former healthcare worker, she wanted to acknowledge how hard of a time the pandemic can be for the industry and the public in general.

“As a therapist, I understood what it was like to be in these dark areas with other people, listening to their tragedies and experiencing their emotions and having that affect me as well,” she says.

Her mural, which she describes as colorful and almost childlike, softly acknowledges the dark place the planet is in.

“Let’s paint this picture of someone coming in and just holding us and just mothering us through this time,” she says. “And I hope that that theme makes its way to others.”

Mackenzie King, a co-organizer for Can’t Stop Cbus and volunteer project manager for the Arts Hub, says the cubes have been very well received and demand has succeeded supply for the murals.

“We’ve got a location that has been really eager to get a mural cube,” she says. “We’ve got everything priced out and got artists ready to go, we just need the funds to go ahead and make it happen.”

The cubes have gotten the most attention, but there are another 20 artists working on designing posters and postcards to be sent to healthcare workers. Posters are going up at Mount Carmel East and OSU Wexner Medical Center, and postcards are being distributed out of Taft’s Brewpourium.

Brouillette says given the pressure put on frontline workers, artists want to feel like they can contribute in some way. The project has helped them do that.

“A lot of us are sort of out of work and looking for something to do that can be helpful,” says Brouillette. “The line that I’ve been using that seems to make the most sense is ‘Doctors and nurses are there to keep you safe and we’re there to keep you sane.'”

For more information and to donate, visit www.cbusartshub.com.

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