ArtsOhio Blog

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Composite image of all projects.

New Public Art Greets Students and Visitors on Ohio’s College Campuses

Across the state, classes have resumed for the fall. On college campuses in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo (Perrysburg), and Youngstown, students and visitors have been greeted by several new public art installations—three completed by Ohio-based artists. 

The projects are the result of the Ohio Arts Council’s Percent for Art program, which facilitates the creation of works of art in public spaces across the state. The program provides funds for the acquisition, commissioning, and installation of works of art for new or renovated public buildings that receive state capital appropriations of $4 million or more.   

Learn more about each project below.  

Cleveland State University 
Location: Ronald Berkman Hall  
Artist: Dante Rodriguez, Cleveland, Ohio
Name of Work: “Nebulae” 

Completed in June of this year, “Nebulae” is a painted sculptural work by Cleveland State alumnus Dante Rodriguez—a 2003 graduate of the university’s studio art program.  

The work is housed on the second floor of Ronald Berkman Hall, known until 2018 as Main Classroom Building. It was renamed to honor retiring university president Ronald Berkman. Centralized on CSU’s downtown Cleveland campus, the building is a busy academic hub for the university, housing the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Honors College. 

The full installation is comprised of three sculptural elements, each measuring more than 20 feet long and nearly six feet tall. Much like a puzzle, these larger elements were created by putting together between 120 and 150 smaller, individual pieces. These smaller pieces are made of wood, gesso, and fabric, which he then painted with iridescent automotive paint.  

Rodriguez’s inspiration for the sculpture was the academic energy of its future home. In his description accompanying the work, he wrote: 

“The installation is the artist’s personal reflection on the exchange of ideas and energy that activates and brings a college campus to life. The characteristics of murmuration bring to mind how students move through space on a college campus. We ‘flock’ in large groups, friends and strangers alike, to feel a sense of belonging and security. After classes, we gather in small groups in the hallways to share notes or catch up on each others’ lives.” 

See more of Rodriguez’s work on his Instagram.  

Columbus State Community College 
Location: Outside of Mitchell Hall 
Artist: UrbanRock Design, Los Angeles, California
Name of Work: “Vortex” 

“Vortex” was installed in May of this year. It’s the work of artist-architect duo Jeanine Centuori and Russel Rock of the award-winning, Los Angeles-based UrbanRock Design.  

Situated along Cleveland Avenue near downtown Columbus, “Vortex” is a sculptural work cut and constructed from fabricated aluminum. It’s comprised of two wave-like structures running parallel to each other, leaving room to walk in between and experience the work up close.  

When creating public art, UrbanRock “explores stories about specific places, and always searches for what is special and unique about the site.” In “Vortex,” the design duo fused the past and the future: 

“Each wrapping wave has identifiable words connected with themes. Mt. Vernon’s community past is represented in the collection of place names and qualities, while Columbus State [Community College] and the opportunities of education are shown through verbs of action and growth. Together, they are the blending of the history of the community and futures to be discovered in education.” 

As the sun moves across the sky, the shadows of the words are projected onto the ground.  

Learn more about UrbanRock Design and see more of their work at  

Owens Community College  
Location: Library and Learning Commons 
Artist: Joel O’Dorisio, Bowling Green, Ohio 
Name of Work: “Rising Sun” 

Housed in the Owens Community College Library and Learning Commons in College Hall, “Rising Sun” is the work of Ohio artist, glass blower, sculptor, and educator, Joel O’Dorisio. 

The work is part of the college’s restoration of College Hall, the original home of the library before it was moved to its own space in 1994. On Monday, August 29, 2022, Owens held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the library’s return to this revitalized space. In addition to the library, it will also support student learning with the inclusion of study rooms and tutoring. In an interview with NBC24 News, Owens President Dione D. Sommerville said, “It really is a transformation to a learning commons, where students have access to lots of learning resources.” 

Situated at the front of the Library and Learning Commons, "Rising Sun” is an installation of 140 hand-blown glass lamps suspended from the atrium’s lofted glass ceiling.  

“Rising Sun” is representative of the renewed space and the goals of the Owens’ students. O’Dorisio—currently a faculty member in Bowling Green State University’s School of Art—wrote of the work: 

“’Rising Ssun’ represents the hopeful dawn of a new day. A gently flowing ribbon of unique, hand-blown glass pieces flows through the lofted corridor. The color scheme will transition smoothly from the deep amethyst of pre-dawn to the golden light of early morning. The theme represents the goals of the students matriculating at Owens, as they explore developing careers ready to emerge into the world.”  

Learn more about O’Dorisio and his work at

Youngstown State University 
Location: Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center's Excellence Training Center in Kohli Hall 
Artist: Jaime Kennedy, Copley, Ohio
Name of Work: “Ideation” and “Brick by Brick (Progress)” 

In mid-2021, construction was completed on the new 54,000-square-foot Excellence Training Center (ETC) in downtown Youngstown. The project was part of the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center (MVICC), a partnership between Youngstown State University and several regional educational and manufacturing partners.  

The goal of the partnership is to meet the region’s growing high-tech manufacturing needs through educational training programs and the creation of an ecosystem to support career development. At the center of this ecosystem is the ETC, which houses advanced manufacturing equipment and a foundry. Thanks to the wide-ranging partnership, its programs and other learning opportunities will be open to many K-12 students, college students, and professionals.  

Housed within the ETC are two new photographic murals by Kent State University School of Visual Communication Design faculty member Jaime Kennedy.  

Kennedy uses digital construction to create printed photographic narratives, combining illustration, sculpture, photography, and text. In his creation of the ETC murals, he wanted to honor the Mahoning Valley’s past as a manufacturing hub and celebrate its future as a center for advanced technology in a reimagined manufacturing sector.  

Learn more about Kennedy and see more of his work at Read more about how Kennedy created each mural at

View a virtual tour and learn more about the Excellence Training Center at


Article by Andrew Paa, OAC Communications Strategist 
The featured photo is a composite of all projects.  

Stephen Yusko (R) in workshop

Catching Up with Cleveland Sculptor and Metalsmith Stephen Yusko

For craftsman, maker, and artist Stephen Yusko, the past 18 months have been busy with a solo exhibition, a large-scale commission, and teaching. He also has a new project on the horizon that will bring together several parts of his life. 

Yusko—a three-time Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient—is based in Cleveland, and his Ohio roots run deep. He spent the first part of his childhood in Middleburg Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. Then, in sixth grade, his family moved to Ashland, where his dad bought a small heating and air conditioning business. Yusko stayed in Ashland until college, moving back to Northeast Ohio to attend the University of Akron.  

He started as an engineering major but discovered after a few years that it wasn’t right for him. “I realized calculus and I were never going to be friends,” he said. But he still wanted to build things and figured out that going into sculpture and metalsmithing would allow him to do that.  

“I was really fortunate as an undergrad to have a couple of really influential instructors in Christina DePaul in the metals program, Bob Huff in sculpture, and mainly Don Harvey—who was and still is my mentor,” he said.  

A trip to the Penland School of Craft in 1989 allowed him to work with master jeweler Mary Ann Scherr. He described it as a “who’s who in the metals world...teaching and was just incredible.”  

A year later, in 1990, he graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture.  

Post-graduation, Yusko originally thought he would pursue a graduate degree in industrial design, “but the more I got involved in the fine art world and [the] craft world, I just realized that’s really what I wanted to do.”  

These defining experiences set Yusko on his career path. 

2021: A Solo Exhibition and a Bridge 

Yusko’s background in sculpture and study of metals—he earned his Master of Fine Arts in metalsmithing from Southern Illinois University in 1999—continues to be seen in his work today. He combines mixed materials, like wood and other mediums, with forged, machined, and fabricated steel. 

He describes his work as “inspired by the convergence of structure and mechanisms—the things that make the thing” and that it “explores themes of balance, distance, and concepts of home.” 

His 2021 solo exhibition, “The Way Things Go” featured at Cleveland’s Sculpture Center, showcased his work.  

“My work, particularly the stuff that was in the most recent exhibitions, [is] about the materiality— the combination of different materials,” said Yusko. “But there's content to the work, though I never want the content to beat you over the head. I want it to be more subtle. So, the work always looks kind of playful.” 

The exhibition explored contemporary life and how people interact with each other, their environment, and politics.  

Overall, Yusko was happy with how the exhibition came together. "It made for a pretty cohesive show because I was thinking about this big topic, and I made work that was my response to these topics. I think, oftentimes, I don't have the time, or [I] don't have the space, to do a deep dive into my work like that.” 

While he was preparing for the Sculpture Center exhibition, he was asked by the Cleveland Metroparks if he was interested in working on a project with them. The project was a public commission for the Wendy Park bridge—a walking bridge connecting downtown Cleveland and the lakefront. It was also a collaboration with fellow artist Stephen Manka.  

For Yusko, “that's a project you don't say ‘no’ to!” 

It wasn’t the first time the two artists collaborated with each other. “We've done a lot of smaller things together, but the big ones that we did were the swings at Edgewater Park and then the Wendy Park bridge project,” said Yusko. “Steve and I were able to collaborate in really this kind of a seamless way because we both bring something to the table that the other one does not.” 

Manka specializes in public art, his work appearing throughout Cleveland and around the United States. After accepting the commission, Yusko and Manka spent the better part of three weeks creating design concepts with Manka using his skills as a designer to draw and create 3D models. Ultimately, they delivered three designs for consideration. 

The selected design was inspired by Cleveland’s well-known Guardians of Traffic, which adorn both sides of the Hope Memorial Bridge and serve as the namesake of the city’s Major League Baseball team.  

Like the Guardians, the Wendy Park sculptures greet bridge crossers on both sides. They are adorned with laser-carved sculptural elements, such as a murmuration of birds and flowers. At night, the sculpture lights up with programmable LEDs.  

“I think as we worked together, we brought out the best in each other's work, and we ultimately made it a better piece than either one of us would've done...had we done it by ourselves,” said Yusko.  

2022: A New Collaboration on the Horizon 

This year, Yusko will have the opportunity for another collaboration, this time with his dad.  

In July, Yusko was asked to contribute a piece to a woodturning exhibition in the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship’s Messler Gallery in Rockport, Maine. At first, Yusko wasn’t sure that the invitation meant for him, “I'm not a woodturner at's not what I do.” 

But his two friends, the curators, explained the exhibition’s concept was for a woodturner and non-woodturner to create a piece together. So, Yusko needed to find a woodturner. 

That’s where his dad comes in. 

“My dad, for the last several years, has been making cutting boards and segmented wood turned bowls,” said Yusko “And I thought, ‘man, I'm going to ask my dad to do this with me.’” 

Yusko is looking forward to working with his dad. “I am so excited to be in an exhibition with my dad who is not in this world at all, or he hasn't been” until recently.  

When describing his dad, Stephen Yusko Sr., Yusko says he was always very handy. Along with the HVAC company, his parents owned rental homes. “My dad was always fixing things, you know, working on things, building things,” said Yusko.  

Being surrounded by his dad’s tools as a kid and learning how to use them is what first inspired Yusko to pursue engineering. It’s also what helped him realize that he could move in a different direction when he discovered engineering wasn’t the right fit, and still build things as a sculptor.  

So, it’s very fitting that their first collaboration together will be in an exhibition called “Turning It All Around.” 


You can learn more about Stephen Yusko and his work on his website He can also be found on Instagram and Facebook @stephenyuskostudios.  


If you’re interested in learning more about the Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Excellence Awards, you can review the guidelines here.  


Article by Andrew Paa, OAC Communications Strategist 
The featured photo is from a class Yusko recently took, the first one in about 20 years.
Photos provided by Stephen Yusko.

Anya Nelson outside in front of the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts

Meet Anya Nelson: Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow

An art lover, art maker, and photographer from Columbus, Anya Nelson is a recent addition to the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery, joining in June as the marketing and exhibitions fellow. She’s a recent graduate of Denison University, majoring in communications and studio art. It was also there that she started her own photography business.  

The fellowship, a partnership between the OAC and the Columbus Arts Marketing Association (CAMA), provides a high-quality, paid professional learning opportunity for those in the early stages of their career. It includes working in the gallery with its director Cat Sheridan, collaborating closely with the OAC’s communications team, and participating actively as a member of CAMA’s board.  

For Nelson, it provides the perfect melding of her interests in art, administration, and marketing. We recently had a chance to chat with her about the fellowship, upcoming projects, her interest in the arts, and more. Read our full conversation below.  

Q: How did you hear about the OAC Riffe Gallery’s Marketing and Exhibition Fellowship? What got you excited about the opportunity? 

I had visited the OAC’s Riffe Gallery during their 2021 Biennial Juried Exhibition and thought very highly of the space as a place for artists and the community. Shortly after, I remember seeing a posting online for a fellowship opportunity and thinking it sounded like a perfect fit for my interests in both the arts and marketing and administration. What excited me most was the opportunity to gain professional and personal development skills from both the Ohio Arts Council and the Columbus Arts Marketing Association.  

Q: Tell us a bit about the role the arts have played in your life, growing up in Columbus and studying at Denison University. 

The arts have always played a major role throughout my life. Growing up, I remember always being drawn toward comics, cartoons, and illustration. At the time, I thought my interest would always be a hobby; I never thought I would get the chance to pursue a career that was based in the arts. This mindset changed when I got to Denison, where I was exposed to many different creative post-grad pathways. Through strong connections with artists, studios, and organizations based in Columbus, my experience at Denison extended far beyond Granville.  

Q: You came on board in June as we were preparing to open the Watercolor Ohio 2022 exhibition. What were some of the things you did to prepare for the opening? What are you doing now to prepare for The Nexus of Art and Health, the next exhibition coming to the OAC Riffe Gallery? 

Coming on board in June exposed me to all the work that truly goes into running a gallery. This involved turning over from the previous exhibition that was going on at the time, Black Life as Subject Matter II, to Watercolor Ohio 2022. The process of turnover involved email campaigns, distribution mailing, and a ton of behind-the-scenes work to make sure the transition between exhibitions goes smoothly. I’m very excited about the next exhibition coming to the gallery, The Nexus of Art and Health. Right now, we are in the process of finalizing the postcard, ads, and layout for the exhibition.

Q: The fellowship is designed to give you a lot of opportunities to learn and gain hands-on experience. What skills are you excited to develop and enhance? 

One of the things that really intrigued me about this fellowship was how hands-on my position would be. I truly feel like I am gaining mentorship and practical professional experience that I can apply toward my next career opportunity. I am meeting board members, artists, and OAC staff that I would otherwise never have a chance to meet. I’m developing my knowledge about arts grants, gallery work, and arts marketing, which excites me. 

Q: As part of the fellowship, you also get to work with the Columbus Arts Marketing Association. Can you tell us a bit more about that experience? 

The Columbus Arts Marketing Association is a great resource to have as part of this fellowship. They do a ton of work on the arts scene here in Columbus. As a fellow, I am part of the board of directors, which involves sitting in on executive committee meetings, asking questions, getting answers, and communicating what is going on at the OAC and Riffe Gallery.  

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of your fellowship at the gallery? 

While I was getting my undergrad at Denison, I got very into photography, specifically portrait and commercial shoots. I ended up creating a small company, GreyGrassPhotography, which you can find on Instagram and online. I was mainly shooting senior photos during graduation and doing headshots on the side. Since graduating, I’ve gotten a lot busier, but freelance photography is something I continue to gain inspiration from and do when I can. 

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The OAC Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the OAC Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram


Article posted by Andrew Paa, OAC Communications Strategist 
Photos by Andrew Paa and Anya Nelson 

Don MacRostie in his workshop holding a mandolin

Athens Mandolin Maker Don MacRostie Awarded 2022 Ohio Heritage Fellowship

Don MacRostie, internationally known and respected as one of the top mandolin builders in the country, has been awarded the 2022 Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award for Material Culture from the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). 

Ohio Heritage Fellowships are awarded in recognition of the significant impact an individual or group has had on the people and communities of the state through their advancement and preservation of the folk or traditional arts. The $5,000 award is given in one of three categories: Performing Arts, Material Culture, or Community Leadership. 

For nearly 50 years, MacRostie has lived and worked as a luthier in Athens County, Ohio. A pioneer and innovator in the field, he has built nearly 350 instruments at his Red Diamond Mandolins shop. His instruments have made their way into the hands of the world’s top performers as well as aspiring musicians. 

MacRostie’s path to becoming a luthier can be traced back to around 1960, when he started guitar in high school. He continued to play and work on his own instruments throughout his time in the United States Navy and, later, as a student at Ohio University. At college, he also picked up a banjo, converting it from a four-string to a five-string instrument.  

A fellow student from Asheville, Ohio, who made dulcimers, jumpstarted his interest in making mandolins. “I looked at that [dulcimer], and I said, ‘by golly, you can make these things, huh?’” said MacRostie. “That’s when I took an interest in building mandolins.” 

When MacRostie started making mandolins in the early 1970s, he said there weren’t many resources available to guide him. Most instruments were made in factories, not by individual makers. He used the few books that existed about guitar building to inspire his mandolin making. A mandolin from a friend also gave him another starting point. He’d take measurements and experiment, "essentially copying, or making my version of that, and then it’s evolved over the years,” he said.  

Not long after he started making instruments, MacRostie said to a friend, “I think this could hold my interest for the rest of my life.” And it has.  

As an educator and mentor, MacRostie has passed on his knowledge and skills as a master luthier to the next generation of instrument builders. For many years, he was director of research and design for the Athens-based Stewart-MacDonald Manufacturing Company, developing many of the tools used in lutherie today. He’s also taught at the American School of Lutherie and has taken on apprentices in his Athens shop. For MacRostie, building mandolins and sharing his knowledge includes more than just the “mechanics of bending sides” but also “part of a philosophy of life.” 

He credits two organizations with which he became involved in the 1980s, the Guild of American Luthiers and the Association of String Instrument Artisans, for helping to cultivate an environment where knowledge-sharing is encouraged. They offered opportunities to connect with fellow makers and performers and display work at trade shows and conventions. Not only did this help MacRostie as he learned the craft, but it also enabled him to pass on his knowledge and facilitated collaborations with makers and performers.  

“We were all excited about doing it ourselves, and getting together and sharing ideas,” said MacRostie. “There was a real openness and us sharing, and nobody thought a thing about telling anybody what they were doing.”  

MacRostie continues to be open about what he’s doing in his workshop today. 

As for the Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award, MacRostie is “quite honored that I was even thought of to [be] nominate[d]” and “happy” to have been selected.  

"I want to thank the Ohio Arts Council for looking at the nomination and thinking that it was worthy of the award,” said MacRostie. “I hope I can spread the word about this whole process and then spread the word about apprenticeships about all the arts, all the crafts...Because, to me, that’s where it’s at.” 

A public ceremony commemorating MacRostie’s achievement will be held during the upcoming Nelsonville Music Festival on Saturday, September 3, at 2:30 p.m. on the Snow Fork Stage (Main Stage). Festival goers are invited to attend. 

OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins is looking forward to honoring and celebrating MacRostie at this community event near his home in Athens County.  

“Don is an exceptional instrument maker who has dedicated nearly five decades to honing his skills while also advancing the craft on a national and international level,” she said. “His beautifully crafted instruments, constantly evolving making methods, and dedication to teaching and mentorship will ensure the continuation and growth of this traditional art form for generations to come.” 

“Don’s story is just one example of how renowned artists with successful, creative businesses call Ohio home,” she added. 

To learn more about the Ohio Heritage Fellowship program and Ohio folk and traditional arts, visit


The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Andrew Paa, OAC Communications Strategist 
Photos courtesy of the nominator and artist.  

Featured Painting

Watercolor Ohio 2022 Showcases Ohio Artists And The Medium's Expressive Range

As an Ohio native, I was pleased to hear about the Watercolor Ohio 2022 exhibition coming to the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery. This exhibition delightfully plays with the relationship between the medium’s depth and the diversity of the selected artist's interests, techniques, and styles.

All artists selected to participate in the exhibition belong to the Ohio Watercolor Society (OWS), a non-profit educational organization created and run by Ohio artists. The OWS was founded in 1978 by a group of 17 watercolorists and has since made notable strides in the world of aqueous painting through exhibitions, outreach, educational opportunities, and more. 

The Amish Way, by Artist Frederick Graff, instantly had me adjusting my eyes to investigate the subjects in this seemingly abstract piece. Upon a more thorough glance, the outlines of buildings and people began to form, creating an entirely new interpretation of this painting. The small strokes against the plastic finish of the yupo paper create a style reminiscent of a dream or distant memory (Frederick Graff, 2022, “The Amish Way”) 

Frederick Graff

Artist Christine Misencik-Bunn uses watercolor in her piece In the Moment, to capture emotions ranging from sadness and joy to love and hate. Her paintings invoke a sense of atmospheric truthfulness between herself, her surroundings, and the viewer, almost demanding we experience the same fervor encapsulated within the subject. (Christine Misencik-Bunn, 2019, “In the Moment”) 

Christine Misencik-Bunn painting

When you walk past Log Cabin Picnic by Artist Chris Krupinski, you might reach out to grab a Honeycrisp apple because of how much attention to detail was put into this painting. Although it may appear as a spontaneous, realistic still life, this piece is entirely fictional. Using her graphic design background, Chris utilized color, form, and placement to create this dazzling composition.  (Chris Krupinski, 2020, “Log Cabin Picnic”) 

Chris Krupinski painting

Many successful paintings incorporate narrative. Artist Ted Lawson achieves this in his piece, Diner, where we are given a scene of humanity yet left with many questions. The replication of neon and the human figure add-on to many of the impressive qualities in this work. (Ted Lawson, 2021, Diner) 

We invite you to come in and see these beautiful watercolor works in person. This year’s selections do a fantastic job of highlighting the versatility of aqueous mediums and the artists guiding them. If you would like to learn more, there are exhibition resources available online and through the Ohio Watercolor Society website. 
Watercolor Ohio 2022, the 45th Annual Juried Exhibition of the Ohio Watercolor Society, will be presented at the OAC Riffe Gallery from July 30 through October 7, 2022. For more information about upcoming programming and to view a virtual exhibition experience, visit

Article by Anya Nelson, 2022-23 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow

Kelly McAlea holding her cookies and ribbon

#TraditionsTuesday: Ohio State Fair Creative Arts Program

The 2022 Ohio State Fair wrapped up last weekend, and for today’s #TraditionsTuesday, we’re looking back at the work of artists who were showcased in its Creative Arts program. 

“The Ohio State Fair’s Creative Arts program provides Ohioans a place to compete and showcase their arts, crafts, and culinary skills,” said Creative Arts Director Erin Birum. “The exhibit combines live competitions, demonstrations, and hands-on instruction, with a goal of inspiring and educating the public about creative traditions and the tremendous evolution happening in creative arts today.” In this year’s exhibition, there were more than 2,500 entries, and approximately $27,000 was awarded to winners. 

The Creative Arts program featured the work of these and many other artists: 

  • Andi Williams, Crochet. Wooster, Wayne County 
  • Meta Van Nostran, Quilt. Athens, Athens County 
  • Kelly McAlea, Cookies. Columbus, Ohio - 3rd Place 
  • Jolene Dyer, Scrapbook Art. Wooster, Wayne County - Best of Show 
  • Sherri L. Love, Decorated Box Lid. Gahanna, Franklin County - 1st Place 
  • Michael C. Moscato, Brillo “Back to Wonderland.” Gahanna, Franklin County - 3rd Place 
  • Lana Poe, Professional Decorated Cake. Johnstown, Licking County - Best of Show 
  • Sarah Hodge, Wedding Cake Theme “What’s Lurking in Wonderland?” Cleveland, Cuyahoga County 
View photos of each artist's work on our Facebook or Instagram.
A few of our featured artists were kind enough to share the stories behind their entries. 

Meta Van Nostran 

“My mother gave me a box of hankies that she and her sister and a sister-in-law gave as presents to one another in the 1940s and 1950s. She also gave me a box of Workbasket magazines. Each hankie basket is embroidered over little Workbasket transfers. This quilt was started several years ago, but due to COVID, I was finally able to stay home long enough to complete it.'

“The border was inspired by Marie Webster. She was the first quilt artist to have a quilt pattern published in a women’s magazine, the Ladies Home Journal in 1911. Throughout the early twentieth century, she designed and sold her patterns for floral appliqués with scallop borders. Her home in Marion, Indiana is now the Quilter’s Hall of Fame."

“This quilt is a tribute to the women in my life who inspired me to quilt. My mother, Harriet, and her sister, Marie, quilted together in their later years and finished my first quilt (I began in high school) in the 1980s. Aunt Marie had a quilt on the frame when she passed at age 95."

“Hand quilting is a fine craft that takes time and diligence to do well. It is not fashionable today in the world of modern and art quilting, but only hand quilting makes a soft, huggable quilt.” 

Kelly McAlea 

“The cookies that you photographed at the Ohio State Fair are Key lime cookies. They were originally cut-out Cookies from a recipe passed down to me from my great-great grandmother. My grandmother baked with me and taught me how to make the cookies. And I have taught my daughter how to make them. I competed with them the first time at the Ohio State Fair in 2017 (shaped like watermelon). I competed again with them in 2019 in two categories: cookies (pastel sprinkles) and Family Heirloom Recipe (star-shaped). They have never previously won a ribbon in the cookie category, but they placed second in the Family Heirloom Recipe."

“Previous to competing with the cookies, my family celebrates St. Patrick's Day, and I would make the cookies for all of our parties and as gifts for family and friends. While my grandmother was alive, she would bake (and my grandfather would frost) and ship hundreds of cookies to their grandchildren at Christmas."

“I believed this year I needed to put a modern twist on an old classic and experimented with my grandmother's original recipe. My family has ties to Key West, and we have always enjoyed a good Key lime pie. I used Nellie & Joe's brand Key lime juice in my updated cookie recipe. "

“I am filled with so much joy to have the cookies win a ribbon at the Fair. And I am grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to share how they got there.” 

EXPAND: Read more about the annual Brillo pad art competition in this 2016 article from Columbus Monthly featuring artist Michael C. Moscato: 

EXPERIENCE: Director Erin Birum encourages artists to start thinking about their entries for next year: “Creatives of all skill levels who may not have entered this year are encouraged to consider participating for the very first time next year in 2023.” Learn more at

EXPLORE: If you’re looking to learn a new craft in Columbus, home of the Ohio State Fair, check out the Cultural Arts Center, part of the Columbus Recreation & Parks Department: 


Article by Cristina Benedetti, folk and traditional arts contractor
Photos provided by the artists and Cristina Benedetti


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