Arts studio raises money to help environmental projects

Kristyn Soltis

It began with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After a summer of tension, destruction and anger, Studio 2091 in Cuyahoga Falls attempted to create a positive from the disaster by raising money through the sale of painted tiles.

Three hundred, 6-by-6 inch tiles from 10 different states, two foreign countries and the studios of artists made their way to Studio 2091 to raise money for The Nature Conservancy for wildlife and water reclamation in the Gulf.

“My friend Tom Skocich and I realized everyone had really strong feelings regarding the BP spill,” said Amy Mothersbaugh Roos, owner of Studio 2091. “Artists were creating subversive or anti-BP logo art to express their displeasure so we thought, ‘let’s find a positive way for this to come together and raise awareness and actually do something.’”

Their idea was to let anyone and everyone from around the world create artwork on the square pressboard tiles by illustrating, painting, writing, sculpting or even welding what they feel is the essence of water.

Each artist was also asked to provide a dollar amount for his or her tiles available for sale.

“There are probably 50 percent of the tiles that have prices and the others were left blank,” Mothersbaugh Roos said. “Artists are volunteering and saying, ‘Oh, I don’t care what it is. I just want it to sell to raise money.’”

Prices range from $5 to $200. Motherbaugh Roos said a beneficiary, whose name she would not disclose, offered to pay for any tiles not purchased before the end of the month. The money from the unsold tiles will also go to the Nature Conservancy.

Mothersbaugh Roos said word about the water tile project, which started in early August, spread quickly.

“Everyone got really excited,” she said. “I started getting strangers e-mailing me asking if they could have a water tile-making party.”

One woman in Carlsbad, Calif., requested two-dozen tiles for her Labor Day party, and students from Our Lady of the Elms made tiles in class.

Kent State students and alumni also contributed tiles, including Mothersbaugh Roos’ brother, alumnus Mark Mothersbaugh.

Mothersbaugh Roos said other well-known artists also jumped on board to help with the exhibit. Illustrator for Madonna’s children’s books, Jeff Fulvimari — originally from Akron — submitted a few tiles for sale.

Marilyn Scott-Waters, owner of in Orange County, Calif., also created a tile for Project Water along with several members of her studio group.

“Having grown up near the beach, the ocean has always been part of my life,” she said. “I want my son to be able to swim in the water just as I did as a child.”

Artist Thomas Sullivan also created a tile titled “Hard Water.”

“This whole project seemed awesome,” he said. “Oil may not be flowing, but there’s more damage than we will ever know, and this was a great way to help.”

“I think the people who have participated have received a lot out of it knowing they’re a part of something bigger,” Mothersbaugh Roos said. “Their individual voice is joining together with hundreds of others asking the world to think about what we do and to take care of our water resource because it’s finite. What’s here right now is all we’re going to have.”

Contact Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].