Art: A Springboard of Hope

It is easy to long for the past.

We mourn people who are no longer with us.

We miss the places where we once gathered.

On Columbus’ South Side, one of those places was the South Side Settlement House. For over 100 years, a racially and economically diverse group of people gathered there: meals shared, kids played, poets spoke, and camps held. The House was more than a venue of social services, but a voice for social justice and center for the neighborhood. 

On Labor Day weekend 2011, South Side Settlement house closed. Five years later, the date is still remembered with sadness.

Today, not only was the community’s history honored, but the legacy emerged as a challenge to the present, as original pieces of art were unveiled at the Reeb Avenue Center. 

Artist John Sunami unveiled five collages that focused on diversity, work, celebration, art and ideas, and social justice. In presenting these pieces, that featured photographic collages, John stated that this art is to “Remind them of what the settlement stood for and inspire them to continue the work. Reeb has that capability.”

John’s daughter-in- law, April, unveiled a large piece called “Spirit of the South Side: Onward and Upward”. The multi media piece includes community photographs, metal pieces reminiscent of industrial plants, and broken glass that came from Church for All People. 

Broken glass turned art is an apt illustration of the South Side. While the Settlement House is still missed, today the Reeb Avenue Center has emerged as a new “Hub of Hope”. 

Rev John Edgar noted that the painful closure of the Settlement House has become the “Springboard to what would come next.” 

We are a resurrection people. What was once broken is now art. What was once sadness is now hope. What was once abandoned is now community. 


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