The Second Sight Project is a unique amalgamation of socialpractice artwork and community arts organization. Founded by artist Mona Gazala in 2012, Second Sight facilitates exhibits and art projects that are accessible to residents of Franklinton, while giving the visiting artists a chance to experience the neighborhood from the perspective of the people who live here. Our mission is to promote both creativity and social equity. What began as a "salon" in Gazala’s own residence (a once vacant/vandalized house on Bellows Avenue) then grew into an artist residency program and a center for public and participatory neighborhood art. The Second Sight Project is now housed in three “project houses,” Sign House 735 & Sign House 737 on Sullivant Ave, and the original Second Sight Studio on Bellows Avenue.
In the past 365 days alone, Second Sight has: hosted 8 artists from 3 states and 3 continents, worked with 2 different universities to bring students and student work to the neighborhood, held 12 neighborhood-based open studios in 3 separate project houses, installed 5 permanent public artworks, and facilitated 3 participatory public art projects that encouraged Franklinton residents to take ownership of the creative community envisioned for this place. We’ve also recently received project funding for 6 teaching artists to work within Franklinton schools and at community gatherings.
The Second Sight Project has worked hard at making art a resource that is readily available to everyone, particularly those in our low-income neighborhood. We have literally brought art activities and public art street-side where it can inspire without limits or barriers. The impact we want to achieve is one of placemaking without displacement. We are starting conversations and making connections with people on the street who see and experience the art, inspiring a greater sense of community cohesiveness and pride. To the rest of Columbus outside of Franklinton, we’ve managed to make our neighbors more visible and more real; we’ve sparked conversations in the media and with civic leaders that weren’t happening four years ago. They’re starting to consider how gentrification affects existent communities, and how we can become more sensitive to this in our words and actions.
Our goal is to continue doing what we’re doing, but that cannot happen without funding. We’ve had the good fortune to receive project support for our public art and education programs, but our facilities – the project houses themselves – remain in serious need of repairs and upgrades. We can volunteer our time, but we can’t do the community work without the facilities.
We have already deferred important repairs on our project houses for the past year because we simply don’t have the funds. Artists who come to Second Sight, some from as far away as Pakistan, Nigeria, and Australia, trust us to provide them with a minimum of comfort during their stay. Fancy, no. But warm, dry, and secure, yes. We have an active roof leak at 730 Bellows (request: $1000). We have window frames at Sign House on Sullivant that are so wood-rotted, they cannot be opened or they will fall apart (request $750). And our kitchen space at Sign House 735 is nothing but raw space with a sink; we could desperately use some cabinets (request: $750).
Our total goal this year is to raise $5000 in building improvement funds, any portion of which we would be thrilled to receive from Columbus SOUP!