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Columbus Schools Give Students Free Coloring Books Drawn By Local Artists

"Color Me Columbus" activity books were distributed Tuesday at 15 lunch distribution sites around Columbus.
David Holm
/
WOSU
"Color Me Columbus" activity books were distributed Tuesday at 15 lunch distribution sites around Columbus.

As parents struggle to keep their children engaged and educated during school closures, Columbus artists are lending a hand with a new coloring book.

Students on Tuesday picked up copies of Color Me Columbus at lunch distribution sites across the school district. 

The book is the brain child of Michelle Brandt, co-owner of Brandt-Roberts Galleries in the Short North. 

One page from the "Draw Me Columbus" activity book, by April Sunami.
Credit David Holm / WOSU
/
WOSU
One page from the "Draw Me Columbus" activity book, by April Sunami.

Originally, she planned to put the images online, but she realized that many children may not have access to internet or a working printer.

“We needed to supply some kind of art supply, we couldn’t just assume that there would be something at home, so we then go to work not only on the coloring book but procuring thousands of packs of colored pencils,” she says.

Columbus City Schools handed out 1,500 copies of the book, along with colored pencil sets, at 15 different food sites.

Carol Beckerle and Aubrey Kabua give out coloring books and food packs at Sherwood Middle School on May 12, 2020.
Credit David Holm / WOSU
/
WOSU
Carol Beckerle and Aubrey Kabua give out coloring books and food packs at Sherwood Middle School on May 12, 2020.

Brandt wanted the book to include a cross-section of local artists.

“I wanted to use images that were really uplifting,” she said. “So I spoke to each artist—and they live and work in the city of Columbus, which I was really intentional about with the coloring book—and every single one of them said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Another consideration? The audience.

“There’s all kinds of wonderful art out in the world, and some of it's challenging and some of it's beautiful and there’s a whole host of things, but we also have to be a little bit careful about what kind of imagery we were putting out there," Brandt said. "We didn’t want anything confrontational, obviously.”

A line of cars waits to pick up lunch kits at Sherwood Middle School on May 12, 2020.
Credit David Holm / WOSU
/
WOSU
A line of cars waits to pick up lunch kits at Sherwood Middle School on May 12, 2020.

The images include a whimsical turtledove, a surreal portrait of a woman with wild hair, even a photorealistic representation of the Buckeye Donuts sign.

Brandt says the book represents what art can do in times of crisis.

“The arts community is struggling," Brandt says, "but it’s an opportunity to turn that narrative around and say, ‘We are struggling but what can we do and what creative outlets can we use to help another demographic of our community?’”