We had the pleasure of experiencing Walnut Hills from a ‘people’s first perspective’. It was eye-opening to learn about the history of the area, the legacy of the people, and the hopes for the future that people have. We sat down and chatted with people who are vested in Walnut Hills and learned about their hopes and dreams and aspirations for the future.

Jay Hill schooled us on the deep legacy of P-Funk and Afrofuturism. We loved that this vibrant black entrepreneurial epicenter was the incubator for the creativity that later came to be P-Funk. As a forward-leaning community-focused musician Jay Hill embodies so much of the philosophy around Afrofuturism. We felt that him being depicted with the Bootsy Collins glasses was only fitting. Allen Woods discussed the lessons of perspective he gained from photography and applies to his endeavors as an artist, community leader, and teacher. His hand and camera are displayed prominently in the mural composition. His interview reminded us of how important visual storytelling is and the multiplicity of perspectives that come along with any moment. Gee Horton shared glimpses of his process, stories of his subject matter, and explorations of some of the intimate soft points in modern adolescence through his illustrations and relationships with the subjects. Geoffrey Sutton gave us a walking tour around the neighborhood and vividly painted the picture of what this neighborhood looked like before reckless city planning was applied. He spoke of the businesses, the ecosystem, the autonomy of the people, and the lives that they were building for themselves and future generations.


We rounded out our visit with an interview with Kathryne Gardette. We quickly came to understand that we have not visited Walnut Hills without visiting her and her husband Baba Charles Miller. She spoke with us about her creative practice and threadwork passed on from her ancestors as well as her continued study and incorporation of West African heritage and her work.

One of the things that all the people have in common is this graceful way of pushing walls, moving boundaries, and widening the worlds in which they live. We tried to depict this in the mirror through composition and placement. People are creating enriching experiences for themselves as well as the people around them and that’s something that we saw throughout the Cincinnati visit.

We combed through hundreds of photographs at the Geier Research Center with the assistance of curator, Arabath Belasko. These spoke to this place of home and possibly a Black Eutopia for many Black people. The irony of MLK being built through this thriving community is not lost on us nor is the future of what these brilliant people will and are making. These roots are deep and they continue to attach and thrive. The people are here and now. Welcome to Walnut Hills.

Our hope for this mural is that it is a continuation of widening the way in which we tell stories and hold history. We pay homage to the foundation of Walnut Hills with images from the archives, including the people in the doorway and the building on the top.

We decided to compile these stories and interviews into a short documentary that is augmented over the mural itself.

The use of geometric shape black with splashes of spectrum color represent a rhythm and flow. It is to depict movement, as nothing stays the same. These changes can be stewarded by people with vested interests in being of service to one another and perhaps that’s something that Walnut Hills is moving towards.


Keeping with the theme of dynamic future perspectives, we have added VR as an additional way to engage with this piece and experience the documentary.

We have edited the interviews we did on the visit and have incorporated sound bites in the AR component and a link to the full documentary.

This is a behind the scene image of the AR voice and facial mapping.

DOCUMENTARY


PORTRAITS