Native artist Brent Billingsley joined girls and boys from a number of Cincinnati Jr. RBI baseball and softball groups for a particular Black Historical past Month artwork challenge on Saturday.
Billingsley and every group of younger ballplayers labored on a singular challenge on the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy in celebration of each Black Historical past Month and baseball. The youngsters got here from the Cincinnati Diamonds, Cincinnati Tigers, Madisonville Braves and the West Finish Reds, all of which symbolize Cincinnati Jr. RBI and “Joe Morgan Affiliation” groups. A couple of half-dozen of the younger athletes took half in every of the 2 periods whereas sustaining social distancing precautions to make sure security amongst all individuals.
“Brent shared some photos from a handful of group artwork tasks that he’s hosted all through the town as part of Black Historical past Month and requested if we needed to work collectively on the Academy,” Reds Neighborhood Fund govt director Charley Frank stated. “It appeared like a pure match and it didn’t take lengthy for our workers to recruit a dozen youngsters for the 2 periods.”
Earlier than diving into the portray, Billingsley showcased his distinctive type by implementing some icebreakers, an train he does with nearly each group he works with, irrespective of the age. First, the children launched themselves and shared a enjoyable reality so they might get to know each other. Subsequent, everybody was instructed to rise up and dance as a part of a enjoyable competitors.
“It actually will get artistic juices flowing,” Billingsley stated. “After we alter the vibe within the room and up the vitality, then we paint. You go from this excessive intense vitality to sitting down and focusing. And that works very properly, taking that vitality from dancing and shifting it to specializing in their portray. Everybody within the room was targeted.”
Through the first session, the group painted particular person items that got here collectively to create a picture of baseball icon Hank Aaron. The completed product will probably be framed and displayed on the Reds Youth Academy. Through the second session, every younger artist had the chance to create and take residence an authentic T-shirt with a design that includes a distinguished Black historic determine or athlete like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and late Reds legend Joe Morgan.
The Billingsley and Reds collaboration continues to be new, however with a few profitable ventures already within the books, there may be definitely extra to come back.
“We met Brent via our partnership with Cincinnati Youngsters’s Hospital and loved working with him final fall on the mural challenge at South Avondale Elementary as part of our Neighborhood Makeover,” Frank stated. “His expertise and vitality are distinctive and he has a pure capability to attach with youngsters of all ages and backgrounds. We’ve remained in contact as we’re speaking to him about the potential for making a Joe Morgan mural on the Academy this summer time.”
Billingsley, who has a grasp’s diploma in social work and earned his artwork diploma at Miami College (OH), works as a behavioral well being specialist and in-house artist at Cincinnati Youngsters’s Hospital. He makes use of artwork as remedy for youngsters who’re coping with trauma and psychological well being challenges. Along with his work on the Concrete Jungle mural for the aforementioned Neighborhood Makeover in 2020, he was additionally one of many lead artists on the Black Lives Matter mural on Plum Road.
Billingsley has devoted his life to the sort of work, but it surely’s hardly work to him.
“Anyone who has a ardour, want, want, will or drive to do one thing that they know they’re referred to as to do — do it,” Billingsley stated. “You’ll by no means work a day in your life. You’ll have goal and be completely happy. You may be saturated in love for what you do. That’s what I did. It’s my calling.”