Lifting Up A Community Through Art

The power of art is limitless, and one professor hopes to harness that power to spark an impactful change on an entire community.


“I hope to call attention to Summit County and show that as a community, we are stepping up and out to care for our communities” said Jennifer Jones, Kent State University professor of art, “and to show that we support The Summit County Department of Job and Family Services (Summit DJFS).”


Jones hopes to do this through a mural project, “As a Community We Will Lift You.”


In November 2017, her proposed project was one of the winners of the 2017 Akron Knight Arts Challenge through the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. As a winner, the project was awarded a Knight Foundation matching grant. The plan is for Kent State students to paint murals within the Summit DJFS building on S. Main Street in Akron.


“Every image in the mural will come from a specific interview with clientele and members of the surrounding communities,” Jones said. “Along with the mural, these images will be printed as a book that you can look through outside of the building. We want people to know that we see them, and their stories are important.”


Jones’ inspiration for this mural came, in part, from her own experience. She herself depended on welfare for 11 years. While pregnant with her son, Jones experienced firsthand the negative stigma around seeking assistance.


Murals and community beautification projects throughout the world have proven that art and the involvement of art creates a paradigm shift in the mindsets of neighborhoods, communities and cities. It is the hope that this mural will spark such a shift in Akron.


“The goal is to change an institutional space into a sanctuary, by aesthetically altering the mental state of shame or hopelessness that one can feel when in need of assistance,” said Jones. “This will not only benefit the citizens of Summit County, but will also provide a more positive work space for the employees.”


This effort will also support Kent State’s priority of putting students first in all we do.


“The project will be an experiential learning opportunity for the students of Kent State,” Jones said. “Not only will the project help build professional and team work skills for them, it will also give them the chance to create outside of the demographics of the university and see firsthand how art can transform a community.”


As the award from the Knight Foundation is a matching grant, this work will only be possible if enough funds are raised. There has never been a more crucial time to encourage everyone reach their full potential. Please help make a tangible change in one of our communities by donating to this project today.

POSTED: Monday, October 1, 2018 01:14 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 05:08 AM