The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College School of Arts and Letters is teaming up with Portsmouth High School and Artist and Education Activist Traci Molloy of Brooklyn, New York, to contribute works of art to the school district’s Human Rights Garden. Benjy Davies, Chair of the School of Arts and Letters, said Rio works to provide unique artistic opportunities to the community.
“The collaboration between the university and the community is essential, so it’s important for us to bring guest artists in to Rio to expose our students and community to global and national issues and expand their artistic horizons,” Davies said. “We have a mission to serve our communities and bringing artists from out of state to our community allows them to see a different perspective of the arts that would not usually be available in our area.”
Molloy, who uses mixed media in the majority of her work, sees her projects as a way to bring awareness to social and economic issues faced in her community and around the world and was eager to take part in the project as a visiting artist. She works with students across New York and the country to bring art to children in their communities without access to art opportunities. She said she sees art as a form of communication and loves sharing her career experience with the next generation of artists.
“My previous visit to Rio in 2014 was a great experience. I had a great time working with the Rio students who assisted me throughout that week at the local schools. I was glad to be invited back for this new project,” Molloy said. “It’s important for an artist to be able to share his or her perspectives with a community with a different life experience. This is why I was so excited to give the students at Portsmouth the opportunity to Skype with my students in the Bronx and learn more about one another and their everyday lives. I enjoy working with students because they have such a curiosity, energy and openness to learn. They are really able to go far with these projects and be creative with different types of media.”
The School of Arts and Letters started Visiting Artists Program through the Imagine Arts Foundation, founded by the late Brooks Jones. The fine and performing arts department have used the grant to bring artists to both Rio’s campus and local schools, and even to sponsor field trips for area elementary schools to see plays and musical performances. Davies said he believes it is important use the grant to honor Jones’s wish of bringing arts to the area youth.
“The Imagine Arts Foundation gives us the opportunity to bring the arts to young people. Brooks created this fund because he was able to see a play in Cincinnati as a child through a similar grant, and that led to a lifetime of working in the arts. As a native to Southeast Ohio, he wanted to pay forward his own opportunity to future generations.”
Molloy will return to Rio and Portsmouth to continue the project in the spring semester. For more information on the Visiting Artists Program, contact the School of Arts and Letters at (740) 245-7364.