Students transform Rathskeller into safe space for creative outlets


Asha Blake

Tajuan Richards reads the crowd two poems that he wrote. During his set, the crowd was focused on him and clapped after the poetry was read.

Alton Northup, Staff Reporter

Correction: the story has been updated to correctly state Ceejay Scott’s position. 

Dozens of students gathered in the Rathskeller Friday night for Painted Lyrics and Ohio Models United’s biggest event of the year, Paintsgiving.

More than 30 students presented works of poetry, stand-up comedy, live music, paintings and digital art, photography, short films, dance and fashion.

Junior digital media production major Ceejay Scott, an E-board member of Painted Lyrics, which serves to provide a platform for students to build a community in the arts, said the event was both an opportunity for students to network and de-stress as the semester nears an end through sharing their creative works.

“The importance of an outlet like this is that way you can know who you’re next to, because there might be people right next to you and they can be the best poet ever and you would never know if that foundation never existed,” he said. “Because sometimes they really feel like they don’t want to be vulnerable with their art because they’re going to be judged or they’re going to be misunderstood.”

As poet Risha Nicole took the stage she told those in attendance her reason for sharing her art, “I want to give a voice to

Risha Nicole reads a poem she wrote to the crowd. Nicole spoke strongly as her friends recorded the set. (Asha Blake)


The highlight of the evening was when the Rathskeller transformed from a dark, basement hangout to a neon-lit fashion show. Attendees lined the red runway, flash photography encouraged, as seven student designers presented their work, ranging from chic pieces to grunge-style streetwear, in collaboration with Ohio Models United.

“This event really helped me because I actually got to put [my clothes] on models instead of just mannequins, so I had to see how they move and see how the garment, the fabric actually worked,” fashion design major Nadia Boone said.

She used the practice runs ahead of the show to see what altercations had to be made for her pieces to best fit the models, a hands-on experience that she said will be valuable for future fashion shows.

Dashon Ellis, founder of the Akron based Ohio Models United, chose to collaborate with Painted Lyrics because he wanted to provide an opportunity for young creatives, especially Black creatives, to showcase their work.

“They need to showcase their art, they need to showcase what they’re passionate about,” he said. “We need safe spaces like this to be able to promote ourselves and come together and say, ‘Hey, I got you.’”

Scott ended the night calling it a success and said Painted Lyrics plans to host more like it throughout the spring semester.

“If you’re on campus and you see a Painted Lyrics flier, you better pick that up or you’re gonna miss out,” he said.

Alton Northup is a staff reporter. Contact him at [email protected]