The Journey

Submitted by Ryan Sarfati

161+

Client: Short North Alliance

Location: Columbus, OH, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $150,000

Project Team

Artist

Ryan Sarfati

Oh Yanoe LLC

Artist

Eric Skotnes

Overview

The Graduate Columbus hotel in the Short North Arts District opened in Fall 2019 and features
the tallest murals in the City of Columbus by Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati and Eric “Zoueh” Skotnes.
A series of three permanent murals, titled The Journey , depict the journey of a hummingbird
connecting man to the gods. Mythological figures depicted in the murals signify the prosperity of
Columbus and the Short North Arts District while the figure of a Somali woman wearing a
traditional guntiino represents the journey of new Americans in Columbus, a welcoming city.
When selected to create a proposal via Codaworx, Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati and Eric “Zoueh”
Skotnes visited Columbus to gain inspiration for their piece. They were immediately intrigued
and inspired by the large immigrant population. Columbus, Ohio has a large Somoli population,
as it is one of the primary resettlements for Somali for refugees since 2010. When they returned
to California, they knew that they wanted to pay homage to the immigrant journey and the
welcoming city they now call home. Taking almost 3 months to complete and 1200 cans of
spray paint, this was the biggest and tallest mural for both Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati and Eric
“Zoueh” Skotnes. They wanted to use this opportunity to collaborate, gain exposure and build
their portfolio. But in the process, they created a piece that will be a staple in the Short North
Arts District for decades to come.

When the artists knew they wanted to depict a Columbus resident that is Somali in the mural,
the Short North Alliance knew who would be the perfect person to highlight. Hodan Mohammed
is the leader of the local Somali community organization Our Helpers and founder of the
Columbus Somali Festival. Our Helpers was founded in 2012 and helps immigrants and
refugees overcome social and economic obstacles when relocating to Columbus. Since the
mural has been created, X people have walked by to view the mural. The artists, the Short
North Alliance and Hodan have received letters, emails and social media messages expressing
the powerful connection they have to the mural. Refugees and immigrants in Columbus feel
represented and honored in the community that they now call home. And as a result, Hodan is
able to connect with more people in need of her and her organization’s services.
In addition to the mural, the artists created an augmented reality experience. Members of the
public can download a free app and experience different scenes within the artwork through
augmented reality. Presently, there is only one other mural in the U.S. using augmented reality,
making this a one-of-a-kind addition to the Short North Arts District.

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes were selected through a national call
for artists to create the murals. They discovered the project via Codaworx. The artists, both
prolific in the 1990s L.A. street art and graffiti community, have built professional careers
working in the film industry and as international muralists. Their murals appear in over 20
countries across the globe, with each uniquely influenced by their street art roots.
In addition to the three permanent murals and augmented reality experience, the artists
collaborated with the Short North Alliance to lead a new artist-in-residency program in the Short
North Arts District. The artist-in-residency program featured a public talk with both artists,
moderated by Dr. Melanie Corn, President of the Columbus College of Art and Design. The
artist in residency program also featured a free two-day masterclass for 16 local artists. Artists
applied for the masterclass and learned the unique skills required for mural making and they
produced two original murals that were gifted to Columbus neighborhoods.

The Graduate Columbus Mural Project was made possible with support from AJ Capital
Partners, Graduate Columbus, The Short North Alliance Art Fund, Columbus Inspires, and the
Create Columbus Commission,Greater Columbus Arts Council.

Goals

●Stimulate Conversation: Public art can stand out, engage, and inspire residents and
visitors intellectually, aesthetically, and emotionally.
● Tell the Story: Public art can embody our community spirit and aspirations by honoring
the past and envisioning our future.
● Speak to Diversity: Public art can speak to the many people and neighborhoods united
by High Street.
● Take Risks: Public art can be bold, challenge our understanding of art, and express our
ambition.
● Level Up: Public art can represent the highest expression of culture and elevate the
profile of our city.
● A successful project would maximize the site-specific nature of the building as a canvas,
leveraging its unique architecture, while creating deliberate linkages between the artwork
and the pedestrian.

Process

1.) Call for Artists released via Codaworx
2.) Four artists selected for proposal creation
3.) One proposal selected (Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati and Eric “Zoueh” Skotnes)
4.) Project management/setup meetings
a.) Artists, Short North Alliance
b.) Artists, The Graduate Columbus/AJ Capital Partners
c.) Artists, Hodan Mohamed (woman featured in North facing side mural)
d.) Artists, Augmented Reality
5.) Mural Creation
a.) Sketch Projection
b.) Paint/Spray
i.) North Side- Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati 90%, Eric “Zoueh” Skotnes 10%
ii.) South Side- Eric “Zoueh” Skotnes 90%, Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati 10%
c.) Finish with clear coat barrier
6.) Artist in Residency
a.) Public Artist Talk
b.) Day 1- Masterclass with artists and artist in residency participants
c.) Day 2- Mural Creations with artists and artist in residency participants
d.) Donation to Columbus Neighborhoods
7.) Augmented Reality Launch
8.) Grand Opening of Hotel
9.) Mural Dedication

Additional Information

Additional Information: Broad and High Feature - https://www.pbs.org/video/journey-mural-graduate-columbus-hotel-pcatqo/ Augmented Reality Experience - https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1248092745401587 ABC 6 Feature - https://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/stunning-short-north-murals-grace-sides-of-new-hotel 10 TV Feature - https://www.10tv.com/article/california-artists-leaving-their-mark-short-north-2019-jul The Dispatch Feature - https://www.dispatch.com/entertainmentlife/20190801/short-north-mural-projects-give-big-bold-public-displays-to-artists-works