MHS students fuel artistic passion by working for local nonprofit

Arworks mural located on the side of a Samuel Adams brewery in downtown Cincinnati.

Alisha Soni | The Chronicle

Students are using their paintbrushes to make their mark on the community.

Artworks is a nonprofit organization that creates pieces of art for different businesses and foundations. Their main focus in designing artwork is to promote art and creativity in various parts of the community. During the summer, Artworks began working on another project where they created their biggest mural yet for a Samuel Adams brewery in downtown Cincinnati.

Junior Kavya Chintakayala has had a growing passion for art, so she was interested when she heard about the opportunity of joining the Artworks team through a magazine. Chintakayala had always expected a teenage job to be one that works in customer service, so the possibility of having a job that she could enjoy excited her.

“I think the concept of having an art-related job, especially at this age, was really interesting [to me],” Chintakayala said. “It’s cool to meet other artists your age that are as passionate about [art] as you are.”

Upon applying, Chintakayala was selected for the team along with other high schoolers or college students. Before they began working on the mural, they had a week of orientation where Artworks put them through training. This included a variety of different classes, like art and financial literacy. 

“Orientation Week was really fun for me [and] I learned a lot,” Chintakayala said. We had a couple of different people come in every day and talk to us about things. A really nice thing about Artworks [is that] it feels like they want you to succeed.”

To begin the mural, the artists spent the first few weeks gridding the wall into squares to ensure correct measurements. Then, they drew out the reference image, which was created by professional artist Tom Post, with a contractor crayon. After that process was completed, they painted the linework and began painting. 

Junior Callum Rettig who sees a future in art, thought that the Artworks team sounded like a great opportunity. Although the mural project was not related to the exact field that he plans to go into, game art and character design, Rettig still found it to be a good experience to have a job in the art realm. During this project, however, Rettig was tasked with a more unfortunate part of the mural.

“I’m 16 so I could go on the first two levels of scaffolding,” Rettig said. “On the second level, the wall had this bump, and we didn’t account for that with measurements. I was in charge of fixing all of that [and] I had the entire second level to myself because no one else wanted to work on it. I did most of that on my own and then eventually met up with everyone else.”

During the summer, the team met every weekday to work on the progress of this mural. The mural was originally set to be a two-month project that would be finished by the end of the summer. However, due to its considerable size, Artworks had to add an extra two months to the project.

Despite the daily long commute to the work site and the intense heat, both Rettig and Chintakayala had positive experiences working as team members for the mural.

“It didn’t feel like a job a lot of the time, it was kind of fun,” Rettig said. “[My] coworkers [were] really nice to talk to and we [were] like a fun community. It was 90 degrees [so] we were all suffering, but we were doing it together.”

Despite the length of the project, Chintakayala considered the overall experience to be educational and fun. She said she is proud to have helped create art that is in public for everyone to see. 

“[The mural] is so big, and you can’t miss it, which I think is so cool,” Chintakayala said. “It’s just nice that I did a part of it.”

Photo by Alisha Soni