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Home Free finds life in libraries

Hamilton (OH) – Cold days, warm welcomes.

Fitton Center for Creative Arts staffers made the rounds of local libraries in January to deliver copies of the Home Free exhibition catalog.

While the outside temperatures hovered around the freezing mark, the reception inside was far more comforting. In fact, Assistant Branch Manager Linsey Milillo invited her Fitton Center guests to make the presentation around the fireplace in the reading nook at the Fairfield Lane Library January 10.

Emmy Piatt, Branch Manager of the Hamilton Lane Library, came to the Fitton Center to receive catalogs for her location January 11. She accepted copies of the catalog from Director of Exhibitions Cathy Mayhugh tucked in among the artwork of the Community Gallery.

Hamilton High School not only opened its media center January 22, but also had a quartet of student journalists covering the presentation of the books for BlueTV.

Students Brogan Hamilton, Eve Duggins, Josh Heinrich and Devon Adams set up a variety of shots, recorded an interview with Fitton Center for Creative Arts Executive Director Ian Mackenzie-Thurley, collected b-roll and background footage and caught the exchange when Mayhugh handed off the catalogs to Librarian Candi Garry.They’ve also reached out to catalog co-editor - 1990 Hamilton graduate by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood - to gather even more information about Home Free.

Co-curated by Fleetwood and Aimee Wissman, the Home Free became the first exhibition in Fitton Center history preserved in catalog form. The exhibition ran at the Fitton Center from October 21, 2023 through January 5, 2024. It featured artwork by members of the Returning Artists Guild, artists currently and formerly incarcerated in Ohio.

Published by Monolith Press in conjunction with Fleetwood’s Marking Time initiative, the catalog is 80 pages, full color, with high-quality photos of the galleries and individual artworks by Tony Walsh, artist biographies and an interview with RAG cofounders Wissman and Kamisha Thomas.

More than simply preserving the show, the catalog serves as a catalyst for the future of Home Free.

“This really was a hometown exhibition,” McKenzie-Thurley said. “We had artists from all over the state, and this exhibition may well have life beyond our galleries, but it was born and bred right here in Hamilton and Butler County.

“We want to help make Home Free available and share it with anyone following in the footsteps of the local people who created it. Maybe the next Nicole Fleetwood or Aimee Wissman will see this catalog at the local library or at their school and feel empowered to ask tough questions they can answer through their own art.”

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.

Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

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