Heartandsoul Nikitagross1, FotoFocus Cincinnati
Julian Wasser, Steve McQueen on set of 'Love With A Proper Stranger', 1963, 1963, Gelatin silver print, 18 x 24 inches, Courtesy of the artist. On view in In the Limelight at Eisele Gallery.

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How the Cincinnati Region Has Used the FotoFocus Emergency Art Grant

Posted on October 20, 2020

Much has happened since the spring. With the pandemic preventing the Biennial from proceeding as planned, FotoFocus redirected its funds to support arts organizations of all sizes. Here’s a look at how local partners have implemented their emergency grants to support and expand their missions.

In April, ​FotoFocus pledged part of the 2020 FotoFocus Biennial budget to financially support the region’s art community during the coronavirus pandemic. Over 100 Participating Venues and Partners received a total of ​$800,000 in the form of the ​FotoFocus Emergency Art Grant​. Today, FotoFocus is pleased to detail how some of these partners and venues used their grants to present lens-based exhibitions and programming.

Some developed new projects, such as outdoor photography exhibitions responding to current world events, 360° virtual gallery tours, podcasts, or video content. Others were able to present in-person and virtual exhibitions originally planned for the Biennial in October, which respond to the Biennial’s theme of light &​—exploring light and its contrasts in relation to photography and the world at large.

“It is a privilege to honor our partners for all of their contributions to the arts in the region. Whether they used their FotoFocus Emergency Art Grant to cover essential costs, stage their original Biennial exhibition, or launch a new project entirely, we are with them every step of the way,” said ​Mary Ellen Goeke, FotoFocus Executive Director​. “This year marks the 10th anniversary of FotoFocus. Pivoting from our original plans has allowed us to explore investing in our community in new ways—from commissioning video content, curating virtual conversations accessible anywhere, and featuring more community members on our blog.”

For more details on FotoFocus supported programming, read below or click here.

FotoFocus has invested in other pathways to support lens-based art and engage the public beyond the FotoFocus Emergency Art Grant. One such avenue was commissioning local filmmakers and creatives Jesse Beyerly, Phillip Dowdy, Asa Featherstone IV, Jeremy Mosher, Kailah Ware, and Bizzy Young to produce a series of films highlighting what some of the 2020 FotoFocus Partnership Venues have been doing since the pandemic. The films are being released on the FotoFocus social media channels and on Vimeo​.

LedgeGallery KristianGeer 3, FotoFocus Cincinnati

Kristian Geer, ​Six Feet Bro!,​ 2020, Digital print on paper, 8 1/2 x 17 inches, Courtesy of the artist.


UPRISING​, ​an outdoor exhibition of printed works ​created by Black artists that explore themes of racial justice. Curated by Jymi Bolden and presented by ​Kennedy Heights Arts Center ​in partnership with ​Art Beyond Boundaries​. On view through November 28, 2020.

Heart and Soul, aseries of painted photographs wheat pasted across Cincinnati, ​amplifying the stories, voices, and faces of Black Womxn in Cincinnati. Led by artist ​Nikita Gross in collaboration with ​ArtWorks​, it is inspired by the social justice movement and protests to demand police reform and the dismantling of systemic racism in America.

Ledge Gallery ​collaborated with ​Geers of Change to ​install PSA posters in independent businesses throughout Cincinnati​, playfully addressing best practices to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

A new documentary video ​produced by ​Behringer-Crawford Museum​, exploring photographer Malcolm J. Wilson​’s work and artistic process. Before the pandemic, the museum had planned an exhibition with Wilson telling the stories of Central Appalachia’s people, but the museum pivoted to video after in-person programming central to the exhibition’s premise had to be canceled.

The ​first 360° interactive tour ​of Cincinnati’s ​Miller Gallery​, featuring international fine art photographers Mária Švarbová, Tyler Shields and Dean West.

A new monthly podcast series launched by the ​Lloyd Library and Museum​.Between the Leaves unearths and illuminates the stories of nature, science, culture and history that spring from the Lloyd’s collection and brings them to life. Kristian Geer, ​Six Feet Bro!,​ 2020, Digital print on paper, 8 1/2 x 17 inches, Courtesy of the artist.

Screen Shot 2020 10 19 At 3.24.38 PM, FotoFocus Cincinnati
Cody Perkins, Monolith 1, 2017, Inkjet print, 35 x 30 inches, Courtesy of the artist. On view in Beacon at Weston Art Gallery. Julian Wasser, Steve McQueen on set of ‘Love With A Proper Stranger’, 1963, 1963, Gelatin silver print, 18 x 24 inches, Courtesy of the artist. On view in In the Limelight at Eisele Gallery.


Despite the global crisis, many venues and partners were able to present their exhibitions originally planned for the 2020 Biennial. See highlights in order of closing date below.

Manifest Drawing Center, The Fundamental Wonder: Seeing Anew Through Camera Obscuras.Workshops held through October 25, 2020
A series of four free, plein air workshops exploring the relationships between light, atmosphere, and the photographer’s lens.

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, Través de las Sombras [Through the Shadows].On view through November 6, 2020
An outdoor large-scale photography exhibition showcasing artwork by Destiny Mata and Arlene Mejorado, whose documentary work explores the subcultures and issues prevalent in underrepresented communities.

Wave Pool, Outcry. On view through November 7, 2020
Chicago-based photographer Whitney Bradshaw creates and encourages an empowering vision of contemporary women, providing space for them to practice speaking up and out for themselves, to be heard, supported, encouraged, and celebrated.

The Welcome Project, The Journey and The Dream.On view through November 7, 2020
Erika Allen’s photos show the human side of immigrants and refugees in search of equality, justice, and the American Dream.

Cincinnati Art Museum, Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… On view through November 8, 2020
Hank Willis Thomas’s bold, thoughtful, and deeply moving artwork shines light on the systems behind bias, leaving no doubt that art is an essential tool in an ongoing struggle for social justice.

Eisele Gallery, In the Limelight.On view through November 14, 2020
Photographs by Julian Wasser capture the fame and celebrity throughout Hollywood’s golden age of the 1960s and ‘70s.

DAAP Galleries:: Reed Gallery, University of Cincinnati, Still They Persist: Hindsight. On view through November 20, 2020
A privately-held collection of more than 300 objects created for, or in the wake of, the 2017 Women’s marches.

Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery, Beacon. On view through November 21, 2020
A conceptually driven group exhibition exploring objects, subjects, spaces, and ideologies that guide our attention and actions through everyday life.

Blockfort Gallery, Flickering on the Edge of Anthropocene.On view through November 22, 2020
Photographers Barry Underwood, Kathy Vajda, and Allison Maria Rodriguez, deal with global climate change, focusing on the era in which human activity is the dominant influence on environmental catastrophes.

The Mohawk Gallery at Robin Imaging, Light, Time, and the Ever-changing Perspective.Through December 5, 2020
Photographers present their perspectives on light and time, offering viewers the potential to change their perceptions and judgements.

Miami University Art Museum, Chasing Light: Black & White Photography. On view through December 12, 2020
Selections from the Art Museum’s permanent collection demonstrate how photographers seek out and capture light to heighten the sensory impact of the image.

The Dayton Art Institute, Archiving Eden: Dornith Doherty Photographs. On view through January 10, 2021
Dornith Doherty’s work documents her travels around the world to various seed banks, highlighting global preservation efforts in the face of decreased agricultural diversity.

Contemporary Arts Center, Marjolijn Dijkman: Earthing Discharge. On view through March 21, 2021
Dutch artist Marjolijn Dijkman explores economies of energy and their associations with colonialism and global capitalism.

Read the full press release here.