SOS Art brings Oaxaca to Cincinnati

What would any of us give to hop on a plane right now? To be able to visit a different culture, see its rich art, and view life from its unique perspective? In the times of Covid, travelling is either banned or so difficult that it can be a logistical nightmare. For many, the ability to explore the world just seems unattainable. Luckily for Cincinnati residents, we are in good hands.

Saad Ghosn of SOS ART Cincinnati has for years worked tirelessly to bring the world’s many cultures and their unique voices on peace and justice here to Cincinnati through art. In 2017 and 2019, SOS ART was instrumental in coordinating shows that were part of their “Voices” series, from Oaxaca and Lebanon, respectively. SOS ART’s mission is simple; “Encourage, promote and provide opportunities for the arts as dynamic vehicles for peace and justice and for a better world”. You can easily see this theme throughout all of their projects and their latest effort is no different.

I caught up with Saad earlier this month to talk about his latest trip to Oaxaca in Mexico. Though not directly related to the “Voices of Oaxaca” show, the relationships formed in the 2017 show motivated this latest effort. “This project consists of a portfolio of woodcut prints on the theme of Human Rights. It features 25 printmakers, 12 from Oaxaca and 12 from Cincinnati, each addressing one of 12 human rights. For instance the right to education, right to health, etc. The 13th artist from Cincinnati is creating the title page.”, Saad said over a Zoom call.

   Dario Sastillejos Lazcares (Oaxaca artist) print on freedom

“The overall idea was to challenge artists to create images and messages around human rights through a collaborative process across different cultures”. Each artist was provided a 12×12 woodblock to carve, for a resulting relief print in black and white. TLP has been granted a sneak peek at some of the work that was produced.

 Mark Patsfall (Cincinnati artist) print on freedom

The portfolio of prints will be printed in an edition of 50. 25 will be given to the 25 participating artists in both Cincinnati and Oaxaca, and the remaining 25 shared between SOS ART and Burro Press, the printing press in Oaxaca, to be sold in order to raise funds for similar or different future projects. Saad’s latest trip to Oaxaca was to carry the 13 woodblocks by Cincinnati artists and deliver and help printing them at “Burro Press”, where all 25 hand carved blocks from both sets were editioned.

Several current or former Tiger Lily Press artists, including Susan Naylor, Theresa Gates Kuhr, Julie Lonneman and Ken Swinson, contributed work to the portfolio; Ken provided the title cover art.

  Ken Swinson (Cincinnati artist), cover print for the portfolio

Saad expects the prints to arrive from Oaxaca next week. From there the portfolios will be assembled and then released. In addition to marketing the portfolios/prints that will belong to SOS ART, Saad is also planning shows in both Cincinnati and Oaxaca which will feature the 25 portfolio prints, in addition to one representational art from each of the participating printmakers. The show will be the occasion of collaborative visits by artists from each location. A venue for the show has already been secured in Oaxaca and is being planned for the spring of 2022. A location and time for the show in Cincinnati is still being determined.

Cincinnati artists participating are:

Andrew Au
Suzanne Chouteau
John Hankiewicz
Kevin Harris
Theresa Gates Kuhr
Julie Lonneman
Susan Naylor
Mark Patsfall
Jennifer Purdum
Kate Rowekamp
Jonpaul Smith 
Ken Swinson
Roscoe Wilson

As details begin to emerge, Tiger Lily as well as SOS ART will share them on social media and websites. Stay tuned!

By Fred Daniell