How do you define home?

How do you define home?

Maybe it’s a place where you feel safe, loved. Maybe it’s a place where you feel you can be yourself. Hopefully it’s all of those.

Columbus is that home.

This city is a home to expression, powerfully so. It’s more than a place; more than a city, more than an idea. Columbus is a home — for artists, musicians, creatives and anyone who dares to throw caution and show themselves.

Prolific, hard-working and dedicated artist — and lifelong Columbus resident — Stephanie Rond is asking all of us (with a Lebron James-level assist from fellow artist Catherine Bell Smith and the Greater Columbus Arts Council) to make Columbus home through art.

So let’s make art. And cover the city in it!

“Sign Your Art” is the brainchild of Rond, which is designed to cover our home in the letters, A-R-T (and this is much bigger than those ubiquitous red letters downtown). She plans to takeover neighborhood street signs — more accurately the poles that hold them up — by attaching 6-by-8-inch panels of locally created work from all those calling Columbus home to spell A-R-T from a bird’s eye view.

To get a better idea of the expansive scope, components of the “Sign Your Art” project will be placed in Whitehall, Clintonville, Worthington, South Side and many other neighborhoods to spell out “art” as pins on a Google map. The project begins with 64 local creatives — artists, musicians, poets, writers — “anchoring” each installation. The other pieces are up to us.

“Sign Your Art” will have a tent at the upcoming Columbus Arts Festival where anyone can pick up a panel, and create a piece of art that may be placed once it’s returned — within a few weeks — to Rond. The installation will take place in early July, once approved by the Columbus Arts Commission, and potentially become part of the Google Street Art Project, where these pieces and their installation will live photographically ever after.

“The beauty is what’s different about this project,” Rond said. “It’s being brought to a lot of different kinds of communities. As a street artist putting up work in the middle of the day, one of my favorite things is to talk to people. The thing I’m most excited about it taking these pieces into communities that might not have galleries and have conversations [with people]. I imagine our installation is going to take at least a week because of all the opportunities to talk to the community about what we’re doing. That’s the real win for me.”

“It’s all inclusive,” Rond continued, during an interview last Friday with Bell Smith and participating artist Lisa McLymont while they took a few moments from cutting the 5,000 panels that will passed out during the festival to potentially become part of “Sign Your Art.”

Basically, “Sign Your Art” is a project that needs and wants your help. Yes, they’ve plotted it out, found the specific street signs where these panels will be placed, and with assistance and funding from the GCAC, will literally cover our home with art.

“We really love to provide a variety of ways for people to be interactive at the festival and be creative. I think our city benefits incredibly when everybody starts thinking about themselves as being creative, and has fun, of course, at the same time,” said Jami Goldstein, vice president of marketing, communications and events for the GCAC. “I went to Stephanie because she’s one of the most creative people I know. I said, ‘What could we do?’ And she looks at me and says, ‘I have this really epic idea.’ When she told me about the project, [I thought] this is a really cool community art project that anybody can get their head and hands around.”

Columbus was once labeled, “The Independent Art Capitol of the World” but those are merely words. Actions, and more importantly art — in the most thoughtful and inclusive way — by our community is what makes those words.

“What hit me right off the bat, as a participating artist, is that it’s a great community project that stitched together parts of the city that sometimes feel shut out of that creative process. Another part of this that interested me was the timeliness of it — it’s always going to be on Google and we’re always going to be on the map as a creative city. There’s a lot of pride for me in identifying as that for Columbus,” McLymont said.

Photo by Meghan Ralston