Student artwork displayed on intersection billboard

By KAITLIN GEBBY
Posted 1/13/20

Artwork made by Bradley County students is being displayed in place of advertising at one of Cleveland’s busiest intersections — Paul Huff Parkway and Keith Street — thanks to a partnership …

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Student artwork displayed on intersection billboard

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Artwork made by Bradley County students is being displayed in place of advertising at one of Cleveland’s busiest intersections — Paul Huff Parkway and Keith Street — thanks to a partnership with Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation. 

Starting five years ago, Key Waller, co-owner of EDGE Billboards, was able to join the board of the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation (BCPEF) with an idea. Having grown up in Cleveland and now earning her living in the real estate business, Waller has always enjoyed art as a hobby. With this passion and her position of business in Cleveland, she knew she wanted to combine the two and give back, but wasn’t sure how to make it all come together. 

“I knew I wanted to do it, but it seemed so overwhelming, I didn’t know how to get it off the ground,” she said. 

She told Executive Director Lynn Voelz about her idea to offer a free space for student art on her electronic billboards. To her, it felt like a big undertaking, “but if you give Lynn an idea you can just watch her run with it.” 

Five years later, Waller said the initiative has exposed Clevelanders to art in a new way while building children’s confidence. 

“It can do so much for kids and their confidence. I love seeing parents wait in a parking lot to see their child’s art come on screen, and cheer and take pictures when it does,” she said. “It’s like putting it on the fridge but at a much bigger scale.” 

Monica Wright, of BCPEF, said it can be challenging to choose art submitted from teachers in both Cleveland City Schools and Bradley County Schools. She tries to pick a set of three pieces that will display well and that compliment each other. 

Much of the work that is displayed comes from younger age groups, Wright said, and it’s a treat to see the talent flourishing. 

After five years of putting youngster’s work on display, Waller said she doesn’t foresee an end in sight. 

“I want this to go on forever, if it can,” she said. 

But after this long, even a lot of students aren’t aware this opportunity exists. She said she’d like to not only give the program more exposure for student awareness, but capture the attention of an older age group, too. 

“I think, by reaching an older audience, we have more opportunity to show everyone just the incredible abilities of all ages of students, and also show the growth of students in school,” she said. “In one collection, we could have one elementary student, one middle school student and one senior in high school, and see how far they developed as an artist.” 

For now, Waller and Wright said they’re happy to work together to bring art to Cleveland. 



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