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Urban Arts Space Announces Inaugural Community Artist-in-Residence, Arris' J. Cohen

July 21, 2023

Urban Arts Space Announces Inaugural Community Artist-in-Residence, Arris' J. Cohen

The vivid colors and larger-than-life subjects of Arris’ J. Cohen’s paintings and multimedia works immediately catch the eye in any gallery—including in the recent Irrepressible Soul exhibition at Urban Arts Space, in which Cohen was the featured artist. It’s not only Cohen’s artwork that demands space in a room but also his presence as a community educator and activist. With his mural projects across Columbus and teaching experience at Franklinton High School, it’s no wonder Cohen was selected as Urban Arts Space’s inaugural Community Artist-in-Residence.

The program is generously funded by The Ohio State University’s Office of Academic Affairs through Lisa Florman, vice provost for the arts, with the residency spanning six months, from July­­ to December 2023. The program includes a $10,000 artist stipend, with an additional $2,500 in funding earmarked for community programming to support the artist’s facilitation of free local arts projects and activities that enable underserved Columbus communities to engage with the arts. The residency will culminate in the artist’s creation and curation of an exhibition at Urban Arts Space, Hopkins Hall Gallery, or UAS Online.

Arris’ J. Cohen is a Cleveland-born, Columbus-based, classically trained visual artist who has been working professionally since the onset of the pandemic. Cohen’s artistic vision is based in the diaspora and telling the story of his creative journey as an African American. Using vibrant colors and geometric shapes with melanated peoples as his primary subject matter, his paintings reflect Afrofuturism and Afro-Surrealism. Cohen’s love for painting has recently expanded to murals, and he continues to diversify, as he has been afforded the opportunity to teach and give back to communities that are similar to that from which he grew. He looks forward to continued growth and opportunities to inspire people to be symbols of life and positivity in a landscape where not much else can thrive, just like the baobab tree.

Of the program, Cohen shared, “My overall plan with this residency is to exceed my potential and take my work to the next level creatively while giving back to the community and promoting the importance of art in our culture. I plan to optimize the use of all resources available to bridge the gap between differing communities, with art as the connector.”

Urban Arts Space will fund a second artist residency program that will take place from January to June 2024. Applications are open from now through October 1, 2023 on the UAS website, and all Columbus-based professional artists are encouraged to apply.

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