Project Manager/Lead Artist
BRANDON HAWKINS "B"
Brandon “Illzotic” Hawkins is a visual artist and instructor with over 20 years of experience. Brandon earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Arts & Sciences in African and African American Studies and a certificate in Fine Arts from DAAP. Infusing his love for history and art, Brandon created his own “Illzotic” technique for art and design. In January 2016, Brandon and his wife launched their mobile company Soul Palette, offering customizable painting experiences. Brandon has worked with Artworks as a project manager and teaching artist on several projects. Brandon is the Visual Arts Instructor at Elementz and a teaching artist with WordPlay and the Cincinnati Art Association’s Artist In Healing. Brandon’s ultimate mission and dream is to bless others with his talent for painting and arts.
MICHAEL COPPAGE "L"
Originally, from Chicago, Michael Coppage has lived and worked in Cincinnati since 2007. Coppage has recently been featured in print and online after participating in the city of Cincinnati’s Black Lives Matter mural and for receiving hate mail for a controversial and provocative series entitled "American +" where he depicts white Americans as monkeys. His work addresses the appropriation of African-American culture, demonization of black men and what he calls the “systematic” destabilization of black people in America. His recent micro-residency at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center entitled “BLACK BOX” is a community impact project aimed at demystifying black men and creating authentic experiences that replace bias and preconceived notions. Coppage earned a B.F.A in Sculpture from Memphis College of Art and an M.F.A in Studio Art from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Primarily a mixed media artist, Coppage has spent a number of years painting. He utilizes an impasto technique called optical color mixing that does not require blending paint and instead focuses on “sculpting” color. He has traveled around the world extensively and has work in a number of private collections. In addition to his more personal works, Coppage has co-created a therapeutic art program called PIECES at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where he works with adolescent psychiatric patients to create large-scale portraits. To date over 300 images have been completed and exhibited around the country.
BRENT BILLINGSLEY "A"
Brent Billingsley, graduate from Miami University with a degree in fine art developed a love for black and white imagery in his last semester of school. His media of choice is reduction woodblock cutting yet he also works with ink, acrylics and pastels. While attending Miami University, Brent worked with at-risk African American youth through mentoring and as direct care staff at numerous group homes. After graduating, Brent continued his education with a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Cincinnati. Brent believes that art can be utilized to reach youth in a plethora of spiritual, social and therapeutic ways. Brent has themed his art surrounding the institution of family and 60’s genre imagery. He believes the imagery is a remembrance of connected loved ones and a time when a people stood for something worth fighting for. Brent believes it would behoove today’s culture to take time and be grateful for family connections. He also believes that we are not so far removed from when basic rights had to be achieved through marches, resistance and protest. He states, “I acknowledge family because there is no greater love, I acknowledge history because we have risen above, we have diligently unraveled, but we still have a distance to travel”.
LAHNA LEI "C"
"Lahna Lei" born, Ja'Lana Bradford, adopted her childhood nickname given by her mother. She is a proud native of Cincinnati, OH and resides in the Downtown OTR area with her three children; a newborn baby boy, her son and daughter. Her prayer is that her three children will be able to view the arts with appreciation just as she has. Under the beloved pseudonym "Lahna Lei," she demonstrates that she is a creative at heart. Art has always come naturally to her and pours from all that she does. Through art, she hopes to inspire growth and happiness for her audience. Her experience as an artist includes mural work, painting, drawing, as well as a design portfolio for both commercial and individual clients in the Greater Cincinnati region. From her experience as a licensed cosmetologist and barber, she brings a unique prospective to all she does. Her specialized expertise in color theory is prevalent in her work both with hair coloring and painting. Viewing herself as a perpetual student, Lahna is continuously seeking improvement to enhance her skills. Lahna welcomes commissioned artwork and is preparing several upcoming projects. Lahna Lei is proud to be a creative.
TAMIA SAUNDERS "K"
Tamia Saunders Tamia A. Saunders is a Cincinnati-based artist currently studying Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Inspired to pursue art by her father at the age of ten, she developed a passion for illustration, animation, and printmaking. Tamia is best known for her illustrations depicting diverse characters using traditional media such as ink and alcohol-based markers. Her work focuses on the heart and the enigma of human emotions specifically tied to adolescence.
GEE HORTON "L"
Born in Louisville, KY, in 1983, Gee is a Cincinnati-based self-trained Hyperrealist visual artist who is quickly becoming a household name in Cincinnati’s art scene. He has been focusing on art for the last three years and has been featured in local art exhibits such as The WE Gallery exhibit at the historic Cincinnati Music Hall, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s “#NewTruth” Art Show (where he was also on the panel for “The Listener’s Lounge: Black Male Image Unplugged”), ArtWorks’ “Secret ArtWorks 2018” at The Banks, and the Mohawk Gallery’s “Manifestations of Time: The Black Experience” exhibit. He is currently serving as the Mercantile Library’s first African American Artist-in-Residence. He has been commission to draw a 6ft portrait of Peter H. Clark, the Mercantile Library’s first African American member.
Gee serves on the Board of Trustees for Artworks, WavePool, and is a member of the Leadership Council for Non-profits Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Team, and is a Co-Host of the Urban Consulate Cincinnati Chapter. He also serves as a Hello Cincy Ambassador through the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber as well as a member of the Chamber’s Vox Futura Leadership Advisory Committee. Gee received his Master of Social Work from the University of Louisville in 2008.
HANNAH JONES "I"
Hannah Jones is a 27-year old mixed-race queer artist and muralist currently based in Cincinnati, OH. Her work fantasizes a world that thrives outside basic hetero-normative thinking. She uses loud, vivid, saturated, pop imagery to illuminate and dignify ALL HUMANS on every level of the spectrum who are visualized happily thriving in full flying, glorious colors outside the rigid black and white boxes society places on them and their identities.
Jonesy wants her audience to see something positive and exciting in her work and to feel SEEN and embraced and celebrated for the unique colors of their existence. She encourages you to see yourself in living color.
VINAY DUNCAN "V"
Vinay Duncan, creator of ToonSpray, originates from Dayton, Ohio and currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The self taught artist uses cartoons and a semi realistic art style to create traditional and digital artwork.
Self discovery & total healing are two components she hopes personify through her work. In viewing her art, she hopes to challenge others to see that there is always room to grow.
Her overall desire is to continually develop, while allowing her art to speak and promote change, growth, and peace.
LATAUSHA COX "E"
Latausha Cox was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her work currently focuses on her personal experiences with race and identity. By sharing her journey, she hopes to inspire others to explore their own stories to discover and release their authentic voice. She is an illustrator, educator, and researcher who uses her art practice to expose evidence of racism and bias and educating others. Her portfolio ranges from the stark contract of black and white ink to the vibrant designs of digital illustrations. Latausha graduated with a BFA in Illustration from Columbus College of Art & Design in 2007 and is nearing a Master’s degree in Art Education and licensure from DAAP (Design, Art, Architecture and Planning) at the University of Cincinnati. She recently received the honor of the Director’s Choice award from DAAP in May 2020 for her Master’s research project Illustrative Becoming. Cox currently works for the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and has an exhibition opening there in August 2020. She resides in Cincinnati with her husband and two children
KE’MONTE FIGGS "S"
Ke'Monte Figgs is a Cincinnati native who loves to depict the emotional experiences of his people through black art. Bringing a impact to the youth in his community and positively influencing children to discover their true potential by tapping into their hidden talents is what he hopes to accomplish. Whether it's painting, writing poetry, singing, dancing, videography, music production he believes there are so many different pathways our black youth can turn to rather than the streets. Art has always been a part of him. As a kid, he found drawing and coloring entertaining. Growing up, he was nurtured by those who saw his potential and developed him into the artist he is today. Inspired by his high school teacher, Angela Mulchay he dreamed of attending Columbus College of Art and Design to be a cartoon animator. While, Figgs pursued a different path, eventually God "trampled' on his course and reminding him of who he was created to be. Before he know it, he picked up a paint brush and began expressing himself with a voice that was heard like never before.
ADORIA MAXBERRY "M"
Adoria Maxberry is a visual artist and educator based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Houston native is the owner of Most OutGROWing LLC, an organization dedicated to helping others grow spiritually, mentally and creatively through art. Her work as an arts educator and civic leader reflects her company initiative: to foster unique and meaningful art experiences with a focus on creativity, exploration and reflection. She further emphasizes the importance of individual and communal growth through creative consulting, and commissioned pieces throughout the greater Cincinnati area. Her scholastic achievements include a Master of Visual Arts Education and Licensure from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP); and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts, Public Relations from Xavier University (Cincinnati). She was acknowledged by DAAP as the 2020 school of art Outstanding Graduate Student. She and her husband Bryan encourage their three beautiful children, Addison, Bryan III, and Charlie, to shine in the face of adversity by bringing truth and positivity to the most dim situations to change the world.
JUE AMMAN "A"
After being a student ambassador to Great Britain, diversity and culture has always been integrated in Jianni Amman's art exploration. Being intrigued with detailed sketching at the age of 6, eventually led to her study of Architecture and Design at Cincinnati State. Inspired by her father, an artist who could do "anything" with his hands, architect Zaha Hadid, and many other artists she is considered a true art connoisseur. Being sent to Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center, along with taking private art classes at St. Bartholomew, were ways her parents invested in their children's gifts. Amman has experience in multiple areas including poetry writing, styling, creative direction, art direction, photography, personal shopping, advertising, sketching, and painting. Jianni sets the standard for fashion elite with her eye for cutting edge style. She has an intricate regal flare for detail and possesses the astounding ability to mix, labels, looks, and trends. As a self taught freelance stylist and wardrobe consultant, she is gradually building her portfolio. In 2006, after surviving being shot seven times, she began coaching on self-love, its vital importance, and what that looks like in action. She is working on establishing a non-profit called Project 21, which hopes to build better interpersonal relationships within schools. Black Art speaks is another representation of how she seeks to serve others and uplift their dormant spirits. It means helping people find their clarity and letting them know their life, gifts, and futures matter to the defining of the whole world.
KATE TEPE "T"
Kate Tepe is a Cincinnati based artist who creates work related to group and personal identities, interpersonal relationships and community networks. She toggles back and forth from design and fine art, but enjoys opening her practice to develop collaborative projects, that encourage participants to take as much ownership in the work as she does. She aims to explore conscious and unconscious identities, (racial, sexual, national, or cultural) as well as established social codes. She is interested in how these identities shape how we perceive ourselves and others – and she wants to push those perceptions, so people create a greater sense of honestly and intimacy with each other.
Her background is broad. She began studying Fashion Design, and conceptually based art work. She received her MFA from the University of Cincinnati, and BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Kate has been fortunate to work under the guidance of several respected artists, such as Noel Anderson, Katie Parker, and Nick Cave. These people have influenced her interest in community engagement, and the power of material exploration to push boundaries. She also lead instruction, and developed programming for the Contemporary Arts Center, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Public Schools, The University of Dayton, and The Art Institute of Chicago.
ASHA WHITE "T"
Asha is a Cincinnati based artist born in Cleveland Ohio. Her preferred medium is acrylic or oil paint on canvas. Although she does many realistic pieces, she prefers to paint surrealist imagery. She is inspired by the work of Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo in the way that they use dream like symbols to tell stories of their lives and the world around them. Asha tells her own story of growth and personal exploration in all of her abstract work. Asha is a self-taught artist who paints using combinations of often digitally manipulated realistic and surrealistic imagery with the intention of connecting people through shared experience rather than demographic commonalities.
CEDRIC COX "E"
Cedric Michael Cox is best known for his paintings and drawings which fall between surrealism and representational abstraction. As a student at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, Cox was awarded a fellowship to study at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. After receiving his BFA in Painting in 1999, he began to exhibit locally and regionally.
Cox’s paintings catapults color into rhythmic action with abstract and recognizable images that create compositions inspired by themes in music and the natural world. His work remains true to sharing Cox’s innermost self and radiates passion from the canvas. Working under several influences which include architecture and art history, Cox’s work ranges from the geometric, to the curvilinear, to floral-like forms, all dancing within surrealistic shapes. In addition to his work being in corporate collections, Cox executed several large-scale public murals and murals in various Public and Private Schools in the Cincinnati region. Cox’s past exhibitions include, The Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati, The Weston Art Gallery, The Columbus Art Museum, Dayton Art institute, Five Myles Gallery in Brooklyn, Museum of Science and Industry and Gallery Guichard in Chicago, and The Taft Museum of Art. In 2019 Cox’s work was on exhibit at 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, and this year he had a solo exhibition at James Ratliff Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. He recently completed a series 64 paintings for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Throughout his career, Cedric Michael Cox’s, work has been featured in books, magazines, and television.
ANNIE RUTH "R"
Annie Ruth is an internationally respected artist and arts educator based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her work positively influences audiences in Europe, Africa, and throughout the United States. For over 40 years, she has been stirring up her gift to impact the world. She is an award-winning author who has published over 40 volumes of poetry, books, curriculum sets and articles for both children and adults. Her arts and education curriculum sets are used in educational and cultural institutions across the country.
Annie Ruth earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from National University in San Diego, California. In 2001, she established Eye of the Artists Foundation, Inc., a 501(c) 3 public charity to connect more arts programming and arts education to underserved communities. She studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati, College of Design Architecture and Art and served eight years in the United States Air Force Reserve, working and training as a graphic technician. She is a trailblazer who has received critical acclaim for her work in the community. She fuses her artistic talents with arts education and collaborates with major cultural institutions and museums to bring art directly to communities throughout the United States and abroad. Annie Ruth has exhibited in major national and international museums, institutions and venues including the National Afro American Museum & Cultural Center, Cincinnati Museum Center and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Her commissioned works are in the collections of Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Children’s for Children/Procter & Gamble the Presbyterian Foundation, and numerous other corporate and private collectors.
Combining acrylic, mixed media and collage, she often fuses several styles of art such as surrealism and expressionism. She describes this style as “spiritual portraits”– capturing the essence of what she creates. The compositions utilize symbolism, vibrant color, often accompanied by poetic verse. Annie Ruth has also gained acclaim for the artwork she has created for numerous children’s picture books, which she wrote and illustrated. A few of her awards include the Athena International Leadership Award, NAACP Innovative Educator/ Arts Award, YWCA Career Woman of Achievement, Cincinnati Herald Nefertiti Award, Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year, two Ohio Senate Commendations, U.S. House of Representatives Congressional Recognition and a featured Black History vignette by Fox Network, narrated by Tyra Banks.
JONATHAN SEARS "!"
Artist and traditionally trained graphic designer, Jonathan Sears is the Executive Director of Professional Artistic Research (PAR) Projects. As an individual, he’s been studying art his entire life culminating with an MFA degree from The University of Maryland College Park in 2006. These days he looks to build an arts & education center for Northside and help teach practical arts training to teens and adults of our region. Jonathan co-founded PAR-Projects with the goal of showing how the arts can positively affect the dynamics of a community. Since 2010 he's taken the lead in all of PAR's collaborations and has been crafting his sometimes-zany ideas into creative realities throughout Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky. He's an artist. He's a thinker. He's a maker.
Photos Courtesy of Albert Cesare