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“Urban Renewal Means Negro Removal” by Deqah Hussein-Wetzel, ArtsWave “Truth & Healing” Artist 

“In an ideal world, I would love for urban planning to truly involve community engagement.”

Deqah Hussein-Wetzel

2023 ArtsWave Black and Brown Artists Program

Creativity Squared is proud to support and partner with ArtsWave and to bring you this special interview series featuring the phenomenal artists and grant recipients selected for this year’s ArtsWave Black and Brown Artists Program.

Deqah is a 2023 ArtsWave Black and Brown Artists Program Grant Recipient and “Truth & Healing” Artist.

The intention of these interviews is to give these talented and deserving artists another platform to share their art and truth expressed through it, as you never know what ripples will turn into waves. If you’re interested in working with, featuring, or supporting these artists, please don’t be shy about it.

We’ll be hearing from these artists whose films were shown in the ArtsWave “Truth & Healing” Showcase and Film Festivals. Part one of this series features the artists whose work is in the exhibition that is available for visiting at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH, through September 10. 

This year’s theme is “Truth & Healing” and Creativity Squared host Helen Todd had the great honor of interviewing the artists during the opening showcase to learn more about their work and what truth and healing means to them.

Meet Deqah Hussein-Wetzel

Deqah Hussein-Wetzel is an artist, preservationist, and urban historian who uses creative and innovative mediums, like her podcast Urban Roots, to uplift and amplify Black voices. As co-host/producer of Urban Roots, her work dives deep to unearth little-known stories from urban history by speaking directly to communities impacted by top-down urban planning practices like urban renewal and gentrification. Deqah is also the founder of an anti-racist community preservation nonprofit called Urbanist Media which seeks to elevate underrepresented voices by helping preserve the stories and places significant to people of color.

“Urban Renewal Means Negro Removal”

“Urban Renewal Means Negro Removal” is a documentary on the impact of Interstates 71 and 74 on three predominantly African American neighborhoods in Cincinnati: Evanston, Avondale, and South Cumminsville. Built in the name of urban renewal, Interstates have a complicated place in American history: they provided many with direct access to the city center, but they also systematically divided and confined Black communities to certain geographic boundaries. These projects triggered decades of disinvestment and socio-economic decline that still affects historically Black neighborhoods today. The documentary offers audiences an immersive, human-centered view into how urban renewal segregated and disadvantaged Black communities.

ArtsWave 2023 Black and Brown Artists Program Cohort

This year’s Black and Brown Artists Program cohort reflects a vibrant collection of diverse art forms created by an equally diverse group of 18 artists. Their mediums include couture fashion, painting, and sculpture — along with film, musical composition, podcasts, theater, dance, and multidisciplinary works.

The projects not only represent the African American experience, but also the experiences of those with Mexican, Lebanese, Somali, Argentinian, Zimbabwean, Guatemalan, and Indigenous heritage.

Listen to the accompanying podcast episode which features Deqah:

Connect with Deqah

Check out Dequah’s digital portfolio and other works, including her preservation photography, digital media, and podcasting on her website.

Learn more about ArtsWave and why we proudly support the organization in Episode 9 “Art Bridges Cultural Divides” with Janice Liebenberg, VP of Equitable Arts Advancement at ArtsWave: https://bit.ly/Ep9JaniceLiebenberg.

Creativity Squared is a proud partner of ArtsWave and because it’s important to support artists like Michael, 10% of all revenue Creativity Squared generates goes to ArtsWave and directly supports the Black and Brown Artists Program.

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