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Why you should support and join ArtWorks

Hi, my name is LaDe Richardson (aka Last Ka) I have been an ArtWorks Apprentice since 2017 working on a range of projects from murals to HDC (Hero Design Company) projects. In this Message, I will be telling you why you should support and join ArtWorks.


To begin with, let me give you a little background information about them. In the article, Our History & Our Founding Director it says, "ArtWorks was started on the lawn of the former School for Creative and Performing Arts under tents in Pendleton during the summer of 1996. Those first few years, ArtWorks was a program of the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative and took a lot of inspiration from Chicago’s After School Matters (formerly known as Gallery 37). ArtWorks became an independent nonprofit as it launched the Big Pig Gig in 2000, where more than 400 fiberglass pigs were placed in downtown Cincinnati and in Covington and Newport, Kentucky. The depth and creativity of Cincinnati’s artistic community was well represented. Since then, ArtWorks has launched and has been part of many more public art initiatives, including large-scale permanent outdoor murals, Hero Design Company, a revival of the Big Pig Gig, Ink Your Love, and BLINK. ArtWorks is now a leader in workforce development and public art in Cincinnati.



Tamara Harkavy is the Founding Director of ArtWorks.


Tamara Harkavy’s path to ArtWorks began with her 1993 graduate school internship at Ziegler Park in Over-the-Rhine, where she created a free 2-week summer art camp for 50 neighborhood kids. The rest, as they say, is history.


Harkavy has won numerous awards, including a C-Suite Award in 2019, YWCA Career Woman of Achievement in 2013 and 2007 Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year. In 2018, TEDxCincinnati honored Harkavy at the inaugural Extraordinary Women event in 2018.

ArtWorks has won numerous awards under Harkavy’s leadership, including the City Livability Award by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Cincinnati Post-Corbett Awards, the Ambassador Award from the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau and a Community Impact Award from the American Marketing Association.


Harkavy serves on numerous nonprofit boards for the arts and economic impact.

Harkavy is a member of Leadership Cincinnati’s Class 38. She holds a master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s from Arizona State University. She is the mother of musician Ben Sloan and is married to artist and real estate developer Matthew Kotlarczyk."



ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit whose mission is to transform people and places through investments in creativity. They work with community organizations, nonprofits, residents, and many more to create this amazing work of Art in our world today. From About Artworks it reads, "ArtWorks employs professional artists who inspire and mentor diverse teams of youth, ages 14-21, helping them build 21st century career-readiness skills." As can tell ArtWorks has been creating a meaningful impact not only in people and places but in our hearts as well. So allow me to explain.


Back in 2017 I was still in high school and had peers and my art teacher Ms.Harris telling me about this amazing job that pays youth to make art. With Art begin a major part of me and my journey I had to prepare myself for this big step. I first heard of ArtWorks in Elementary school also, I was part of this after-school program called Whiz Kids a fantastic program for kids to have a place and an outlet to be active in a positive way. My mentor at that time was Fiona Riant a lovely Woman passionate about being a mentor to young children knowing she is making a dramatic impact in her mentee's life.


By her showing interest in my art and how good I was at it remind her of ArtWorks and told me I should join them because I would get to make art and get paid for doing so. I was excited saying to myself I will do this and this will be my first job ever. years later I join them and have been with them ever since. If not for her and my peers and art teacher telling me about this organization my life would far different than what it is now. 2017 was the year that changed my life forever and being the shy kids in school and around my family. This was a big step for me not know exactly what I was doing or getting myself into I made my first step and applied to ArtWorks and going to my first interview ever! Scared out of my head I did great everyone was so helpful and friendly I could relax a little and I did cry so that was the best experience going through a job process.


Finished with my interview I went home and waited to get that email says if I was hired or not. that day came and I was overjoyed and excited to start to know that I could finally start helping my family out was a true miracle. My first ArtWorks summer project was the Edie Harper Crazy cat Crazy Quilt Mural. I will say has hands down I didn't think I would be able to do a group project being the shy kid never talking even throughout my whole school life but I did it works help me break out of my shell. 2018 my senior year I talked in school full time because of ArtWorks. They have sparked my future leading me to new heights a true miracle in its self.


They Also were hosted by AAC in which I am now attending going on my 4th year with the Art Academy of Cincinnati. If not for ArtWorks I would not be in college every other college I apply to didn't accept me at that time probably due to my test scores and other factors that didn't meet their requirements.


My life has been shining brightly for me I have applied and gotten rehired by ArtWorks ever since. I have worked on the Avondale Towne Center mural, YWCA mural, Saya Woolfalk mural, Black Lives Matter mural, Fredrick Douglass street mural, Madisonville Ackermann mural, HDC Masks, HDC Flags, Baobab Project, Avondale Here Me Out Mural. Being the Senior Apprentice for some project and Spokesperson for others, get to work with Amazing Teaching Artists like Derek Toebbe, Seana Higgins, Braylyn Myers, Christian Dallas, Ciro Casanova, Amica Phoenix, Rebecca Nava, Mark Hanavon, Prince Lang, Gee Horton, Brandon Hawkins, Cedric Michael Cox, Lindsey Whittle, Tamia Saunders and so many more.


I have seen overall my years being an Apprentice each veteran apprentice and new apprentice grow, improve, learn, and have a blast from this experience. being a veteran apprentice I get to teach, help, guide, and be a role model for other apprentices and get to meet and connect with becoming like a family. That is one of the reasons I keep reapplying it's like going to a family reunion meet your family member you have seen in a while and meet the new members of the family connecting and sharing stories.


what is a better experience? The next reason would be getting to meet others like you and completely different from you, ranging from different backgrounds, cultures, life, and experiences. Working with these professional artists is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that in artworks you get to meet and work with them to create magnificent works of Art. Seeing how they make an impact in these apprentice lives being their mentors someone they can come to and ask questions and advice it's so heartwarming. ArtWorks has created a safe and friendly place to work and become your true self giving you many opportunities to grow, learn, improve, experience, and make an impact. Seeing how these projects affect, impact, change, transform these communities, and hear the feedback of these people living there is priceless to know that you are creating a meaningful and lost lasting impact in their lives. That you just have to experience it for yourself, learn more about ArtWorks on their platforms.



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