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Truth & Healing Artist Showcase | Film Festival

Presented by ArtsWave and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati OH

Jul 16 - 30 2023
Truth & Healing Artist Showcase | Film Festival

ArtsWave is pleased to present the third annual showcase of new works by 18 of the region’s leading Black and Brown artists.

Join us at the Harriet Tubman Theater in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Sunday, July 16 and Sunday, July 30 for a festival of nine short films as part of the 2023 Truth & Healing Artist Showcase.

The “Truth & Healing Artist Showcase” will be held at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on July 14-16 and July 30, 2023, with the visual art exhibition in place through September 10, 2023. This year’s Showcase is focused on the themes of healing, rebirth and reconnecting. Projects will explore and build upon the current artistic commentary of health and race and connect it with historical events and visions of a more equitable future.

The schedule of films is as follows:

10:30 a.m. | “Social Therapy: Are We Healing?” by Desirae “The Silent Poet” Hosley

“Social Therapy: Are We Healing?” is a five- part documentary series with a live audience, featuring an open dialogue questioning whether the arts are a healing source for the BIPOC community or a trigger of recurring events without restoration of peace. These conversations will open the door to understanding how an artist’s art is more than a conversation. It’s a way to rebuild connection after grieving past experiences.

10:40 a.m. | “The 12 Commandments” by Michael Coppage

“The 12 Commandments” series is a play on words using the 10 commandments and “12,” a slang term from rap culture meaning “police.” Directly in conflict with commandments like “thou shalt not kill” and “thou shalt not bear false witness,” police have historically used their power to demonize, arrest, maim and kill Black people. This sculpture highlights how even compliance with these commands can end in death. This project is not meant to demonize police but to highlight the assertion of power over Black bodies and the systemic issues that arise as a result.

10:50 a.m. | “I’m Still Listening” by Brent Billingsley

A continuation of the “I’m Listening” project showcasing police/community engagement, this final product is a line of hand-designed, costume-painted, artistically-rendered garments created by high school students. With content arising from a series of facilitated discussions with students, teachers and police, the creation of these T-shirts empowered youth through creativity, design, relationship building, self-esteem, continuity of care, artistic drainage of emotions, focus and fun.

11:05 a.m. | “Viewpoints Embodied: Middle Eastern Voices in Cincinnati” by Rowan Salem

Highlighting the stories of Cincinnati residents of Middle Eastern descent, “Viewpoints Embodied” is a series of interviews and dance films. Dance has the potential to uncover new points of view and showcase the diversity of backgrounds that make our communities stronger.

11:45 a.m. | “Yemaya: Sista to the Distant, Yet Rising Star” by Chenelle Jones, featuring (CA)^2 and WARMTH Culture. 

This project elevates the artistic practices of dance and DJ-ing as modes of storytelling. The three-part story utilizes the mythology of Yemaya to explore the journey and battle for self-acceptance faced by women of the African diaspora. The (CA)^2 Dance Crew will lead the audience through each part of the story through dynamic dance. Ultimately, the message is one of defiance and represents Black Women reclaiming the right to
live fully human existences free from confining standards, bigoted opinions and racist/sexist barriers that poison our sense of self- worth and hinder our spiritual ascension.

12:15 p.m. | BREAK

12:45 p.m. | “Legacy” by Alan Lawson

“Legacy” is an original music composition for full orchestra (strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion) written to honor those who have fought for marginalized people’s rights throughout history. Celebrating MLK’s march on Washington, the piece encompasses the feelings of strength, determination and unity, telling an inspirational story through the universal language of music.

1:05 p.m. | “Urban Renewal Means Negro Removal” by Deqah Hussein-Wetzel

“Urban Renewal Means Negro Removal” is a follow-up to Deqah’s 2021 documentary, “Lost Voice of Cincinnati.” Through archival photographs, historic aerials and modern drone footage, it illustrates the physical changes that the construction of Interstates 71 and 74 caused in three predominantly African American neighborhoods in Cincinnati: Evanston, Avondale and South Cumminsville. Interstate highways have a complicated place in American history, providing direct downtown access to those living outside of the city center while systematically dividing and confining Black communities. These projects triggered socio- economic decline in BIPOC neighborhoods that continue to linger. Deqah offers a human-centered way to understand their consequences. In the words of James Baldwin, urban renewal “means Negro removal; that is what it means.”

1:35 p.m. | “Divided Roots, Seeing is Believing” by Preston Bell Charles III

A dual-media project, “Divided Roots” utilizes video and audio elements to tell the stories of Cincinnati. A love letter to the region, audiences will be immersed in the community like never before — the good, bad, ugly and everything in between. The project will show not only how African Americans have shaped what Cincinnati is today, but how they’ll continue to shape it in years to come.

2:30 p.m. | Break

3:05 p.m. | “Attrition” by Silas Tibbs

In an Orwellian-style science fiction narrative, “Attrition” shows the African American experience unfolding in a dystopian future. The aftermath of a devastating protest leads to the establishment of a strict government department, the Department of Social Regulation. Our story follows a disillusioned Black war veteran and his wife who undergo a final interview for an opportunity that holds the potential to change their lives. As their interview approaches, they grapple with the oppressive system and the difficult choices they must make to navigate the intricacies of the African American experience within this Orwellian world.

3:35 p.m. | “Lejanía” by Pablo Mejia

“Lejanía” is an expression of the new worlds we discover, the distances we travel and the things we leave behind in search of freedom. The need for this short film was inspired by the stories shared with the filmmaker at the Mexican-American border in 2018 as they witnessed the exodus of thousands of people migrating north. In fall 2022, they began to interview people from Central America who had made Cincinnati their new home. Working with several members of one local family from Guatemala, the filmmaker began to adapt their personal experiences of transition, grief and hope. The actors cast in this film have lived a version of this story. “Lejanía” is the product of their narratives in collaboration with the artist’s, culminating in a modern tale of one woman’s journey to find independence and call Cincinnati home.

ArtsWave’s Black and Brown Artist Program supports Black and Brown artists in the Cincinnati region who interpret the themes of our times. It is one way that ArtsWave works to increase the sustainability of organizations and artists that focus on the preservation and advancement of Black arts and culture. ArtsWave’s partnership with the City of Cincinnati, Duke Energy, Macy’s, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Fifth Third Bank and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center make the program possible.


Free Admission

    Official Website


National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Full map and directions


Paid garage and street parking is available.



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