Icy & Sot in Cincinnati ; “We Need Education, Not Violence”

The July 4th fireworks and bombast is over. The violence on America’s streets is not.

In Cincinnati alone 48 people have been killed by gun violence in the first half of the year a new mural by Street Artists Icy & Sot intends to combat it with this message; “Education and art are key to breaking the cycle of violence.” Using pencils as a symbol of education and self-awareness and power, the brothers say we individually have the power to save youth from gun violence.


Icy & Sot for ArtWorks in Cincinnati, USA. (photo © Icy & Sot)

The socially conscious stencilists are invoking an image they created after being victims of gun violence themselves and in response to other high-profile episodes of violence on the world stage recent years – a gun with a pencil for a barrel. This 20’ x 24’ mural of individuals toting high-powered pencils imagines what the results of education can do to lift a community, instead of tear it apart.

The new piece is called “We Need Education, Not Violence”, and we have images of the process here for you today.


Icy & Sot for ArtWorks in Cincinnati, USA. (photo courtesy of Icy & Sot)

Somehow discussion of the gun-violence topic in the sensational and moneyed media always seems to encourage an intractable polarization of thought – simplifying opinions, placing people into only two camps, and trotting out tropes about “liberals” and “conservatives”. The tactics attack people instead of ideas, purposefully clouding the arguments, prolonging inertia.

The Rev. Gail Greenwell of Christ Church Cathedral says that the religious organization “sees public art as one way to generate public reaction, to engage the community in a meaningful dialogue about gun violence and gun violence prevention.” The church worked with Artworks, an award winning visual arts non-profit to solicit artists for the message and the project was completed and installed last week.


Icy & Sot for ArtWorks in Cincinnati, USA. (photo courtesy of Icy & Sot)

ArtWorks says it is the largest visual employer in the Cincinnati region and “our vision is to be the creative and economic engine that unites citizens to transform our region through public art.”

Can ArtWorks and Icy & Sot propel the conversation forward and cause a meaningful change in a community that is suffering from gun violence? For those who believe in the power of art in the public sphere, there is reason to think that it can.


Icy & Sot for ArtWorks in Cincinnati, USA. (photo © Icy & Sot)


Icy & Sot for ArtWorks in Cincinnati, USA. (photo © Icy & Sot)


Icy & Sot for ArtWorks in Cincinnati, USA. (photo © Icy & Sot)

For more information please visit cincinnaticathedral.com, ArtWorksCincinnati.org.