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Ohio Northern A&D alumni create mural that pays tribute to Franklinton’s history

April—Last week, a 5,000 square foot mural was unveiled that depicted one of Columbus’ saddest moments in history—the flood of 1913.

Approximately 500 people died in the flood that occurred 102 years ago. But the mural wasn’t meant to depress, it was meant to illustrate how the citizens of that neighborhood rebuilt their community and overcame adversity, according to Andrew Adams (BFA/graphic design ’12), one of the designers behind its creation.

Andrew is a graphic designer for Orange Barrel Media, a Columbus-based urban advertising firm. The company is finishing construction on a new headquarters building in Franklinton, which the mural can be encountered on the south side of the building. Motorists can see the mural along Route 315 and Broad Street.

“The heroism evident in the image captures the sense of community that defines Franklinton, and we thought it a fitting tribute to the people of this great community,” explained Andrew.

Honoring its new home in Franklinton, the digital print is a copy of an oil painting by Ohio Northern graduate Emily Jay (BFA/studio arts ’10) depicting two rescuers and three passengers in a canoe along Town Street.

“We were looking at the rich history of Franklinton,” said Andrew. “We kept coming back to these photos of the 1913 flood and how it really defined Franklinton’s resilience and the energy of this town.”

“Orange Barrel was very helpful with providing me source materials,” said Emily. “I did a lot of research on the flood and what it did to Franklinton. Basically, I spent a lot of time looking at old Columbus Dispatch photographs of the aftermath of the event, and reading personal accounts of what happened.”

When Emily was asked to get involved with the project, she was excited about doing a contemporary spin on historical painting. “All of my favorite painters were, essentially, romantic painters dealing with history (Turner, Delacroix, etc.), and I liked the idea of being able to do the same thing, but, in the situation, dealing with the history of my hometown of Columbus. I was also excited about the idea of working with an old photograph. The merging of photography, history, and painting is right in line with what I’m always exploring within my work.”

While working in a studio at ONU’s Wilson Art Center, Emily completed the painting in about a month. “We spent about a week talking about the concept and then deciding on what photograph we wanted the mural to be based from.”

The painting was completed in oils. “I am an oil painter,” explained Emily. “I love oil for so many reasons—the luminance, the color intensity, the feel of the paint, the whole experience of painting with it. I have been using oils for over ten years and it’s a medium that I enjoy and I know how to make it work for me.”

The initial reaction from people to the mural since its unveiling last Friday has been very positive. “Everyone who I have talked to was really happy, and I think the sheer size of the finished mural is really exciting,” said Emily.

“I feel privileged to have been a part of this project,” expressed Emily. “Culturally speaking, I think Columbus, and Franklinton specifically, has a lot to offer. We forget the rich history that is right under our noses, and I love that I had the opportunity to make work that helped to uncover this story.”

Concurring with Emily’s thoughts, Andrew said, “We [Orange Barrel] are proud to be a part of this beautiful community. We just didn’t want to build this building. We wanted to be a part of the community. So the backside of the building is an ode to the rich history of the community.

“The floods devastated Franklinton for many years… So the image of these boaters paddling to save the locals shows a real sense of community. As Franklinton continues to develop and moves forward so quickly, we also don’t want to loose site of the past.”

Emily is currently teaching digital photography and visual literacy at ONU. She earned her Bachelor of fine arts degree in studio arts in 2010 at Ohio Northern. While a student, Emily was involved in Kappa Pi and the Student Art League. She was also a Shelley C. Petrillo Scholarship recipient. She earned her MFA in painting from Bowling Green State University in 2013.

This past fall, she held a photography exhibit at the Elzay Gallery of Art. I Dream of All Things explored the relationship between promise, breaking, and beauty. It was a photographic exploration of slipping into and out of dreams, as they come to be and as they come to fall apart. This summer, she will spend over a month at 33 Officina Creativa (33OC), the artist residency program located in Toffia, Italy.

Andrew, who graduated in 2012 from ONU, started to work as a graphic designer for Orange Barrel Media in January 2014. Previously, he was a designer for Winking Fish, an identity and branding firm located in Washington, D.C. As a student at ONU, Andrew was involved with the AIGA/ONU student chapter and served as president, Kappa Pi national art honorary, Phi Mu Alpha national music fraternity, Phi Eta Sigma national honor society, jazz band, and rugby. He also was accepted to the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars and interned for Winking Fish.

The mission of the Ohio Northern graphic design program is to prepare undergraduate students to become socially and environmentally aware leaders in the field of visual communication. Focusing on development and mastery of conceptual and technical skills in graphic design, illustration, and advertising as well as studio electives, cross disciplinary courses and collaborative experiences prepare students for the convergence of the design fields and for positions as creative directors across a broad spectrum of increasingly media-based careers. Graduates from the program have gone on to work at companies such as Wunderman Design, Foothold Design, Smithsonian Institution, Milan Historical Museum, NiSource, and Bubbles Academy.

Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2014–15 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: The mural over Orange Barrel Media’s headquarters; Andrew interviewed by WSYX-ABC 6/Columbus