Ohio rarely loses an opportunity to surprise. For outsiders, Ohio is often presents as a fairly homogenous state in the middle of the country, remarkable for the premium its residents place on politeness, its seeming resistance to change, the harshness of its Lake Erie winters, and for the initiated, the excellence of its varieties of ice cream. However, residents of the state know that Ohio is as diverse as the country of which it is a part. In recent decades, Ohio has—in its quiet way—increasingly become home to a growing population African immigrants. Often even people who live here do not realize that they can drive from the rolling farms of the Amish landscape to the commercial centers of America’s second largest population Somalis within a morning, that is if the weather is mild enough and the carriages do not block the road.

As a result, in 2011, the Ohio Arts Council embarked on an ambitious project, an attempt to survey the work of African immigrant artists across the state. Previous efforts to document artistic activity in the state had focused on communities as diverse as the Latino community in Ohio and the traditional or folk artists of Holmes and Lawrence Counties. What follows here is a report of the findings of this project, and an assessment of the state of African immigrant arts in the Buckeye state.

Download the report (pdf)

View Artist Profiles from the African Immigrant Arts Directory

Find Artists by County

Ohio Folk & Traditional Arts - Ohio Arts Council Ohio Folk & Traditional Arts - National Endowment for the Arts Ohio Folk & Traditional Arts - ThinkTV