An 8-by-12 mural featured prominently on the second level of the new Columbus Public Library has been turning plenty of heads and receiving lots of positive feedback.
The work, by Columbus-based artist Yaramis “Yara” Ramos Hernandez, was installed just in time for the grand opening of the voter-approved Columbus Community Building. Ramos Hernandez was on hand in early July with City Planning and Economic Development Coordinator Jean Van Iperen and Columbus Arts Council Executive Director Elley Coffin to make sure the piece was installed properly.
The mural features bright pops of yellow, orange, purple, red and shades of blue while highlighting people, animals, sunshine, a multicultural landscape and more. The intent is to showcase diversity.
“I didn’t want to show it in an obvious way. I wanted to show diversity by a different approach,” Ramos Hernandez explained. “My idea was peace and communion, which is why the dove is the main protagonist of this piece.”
The mural delivers on a promise City leaders made to the community to promote diversity within the new building, according to Van Iperen. The original building design called for a three-dimensional wood wall that was meant to represent diversity and inclusiveness. But in February 2023, City officials learned they would have to modify that idea. That’s where the mural came into play.
Van Iperen supplied the topic, but then let Ramos Hernandez roll with it. She was all smiles when the artist brought the piece to the Columbus Community Building ahead of its grand opening.
“Yara is an amazing artist who puts a lot of thought into the pieces that she creates,” Van Iperen said, noting the mural was paid for via the building fund. “The elements in the piece highlight the diversity of our community, bringing together different symbols from a wide variety of counties, states and cultures while at the same time exhibiting the inclusiveness that public libraries hold dear.”
Local nonprofit the Columbus Arts Council, which prides itself on being “a center for creativity for the region” and is headquartered in the Columbus Community Building, is excited to see the piece on display.
“The City of Columbus desired and prioritized the investment of hiring an artist to create an original artwork that would be proudly displayed in the new structure. There was a vision brought to the table, but the City surrendered full artistic reign and expression to Yara,” said CAC Executive Director Elley Coffin, who is also the City’s community coordinator. “The value of artwork is something we continually are advocating for and to see the City of Columbus invest and celebrate the artist's voice is a wonderful reflection of the pursuit of this goal.”
Ramos Hernandez spent about 40 hours over two weeks earlier this year bringing the mural to life on canvas. Once she got the theme, she mapped out her plans, refined her concepts and made good use of acrylic paint.
Seeing the work finally on display in the new public library almost brought a tear to her eye.
“It’s a dream,” she said, with a big smile she couldn’t contain. “Because I really wanted to be part of this space somehow and it happened. It’s very much gratifying.”
The City of Columbus posted a couple of photos via its social media channels when the mural was first being installed, which garnered a lot of praise from community members. Ramos Hernandez said creating her art is extremely rewarding, but added the positive feedback from people is an added bonus that means a great deal to her because her goal for all of her work is to hopefully inspire others and have them enjoy it.
“What I enjoy most is the process. I love painting,” she said. “But I appreciate people enjoying what I do.”
The diversity mural in the Columbus Community Building comes on the heels of Ramos Hernandez completing a mural on the bandshell in Frankfort Square back in May 2023. That mural, which you can read about by clicking here, also has proven to be quite popular.
“I really love the Columbus community because it is welcoming and open to new things,” Ramos Hernandez said. “I’ve always felt accepted here.”
As for the City, Van Iperen said the community has shown much interest in the arts. She said City officials hope to continue incorporating it into local efforts to help the community grow and prosper.
“I am encouraged by the comments the mural has received since being installed and look forward to working on additional community projects in the future,” she said. “As we develop the offering of art in the community, we are hoping to create jobs within the creative industry, encourage tourism and boost revenue to local businesses.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Arts Council Executive Director/City of Columbus Community Coordinator Elley Coffin, left, City Planning and Economic Development Coordinator Jean Van Iperen and local artist Yara Ramos Hernandez pose for a photo after the latter's mural was installed on the second level of the Columbus Community Building within the Columbus Public Library.)