Surprise book gift part of art teacher recognition by Manifest

In honor of its 20th year, Manifest recognized arts educators from across Greater Cincinnati ahead of the upcoming start of the 2023 school year. 

Each of the teachers also received a considerable prize as a thank-you for their work.

The group representing 10 different high schools visited the visual arts organization’s drawing center on July 29, providing a chance to learn more about the offerings available to them, and their students, at Manifest’s historic new Central Parkway headquarters.

This is the nonprofit’s first full year in the facility in Clifton. It also operates galleries and artist-in-residence studios on Woodburn Avenue in Walnut Hills.

As part of the visit, the educators also met Kevin Leigh-Manuell, coordinator for Manifest’s studio programs. He also oversees the distribution of publications from Manifest Press, the publishing arm of the organization’s nonprofit programming.

The Manifest team surprised each teacher in attendance with the entire library of Manifest Press books published to date. That includes 36 books, featuring 5,292 works made by 3,341 artists from around the world.

Art educators learn about the offerings at Manifest during a tour of the Clifton facility.

Manifest Press has won seven Independent Publisher Book Awards Awards over the past 19 years. They’ve taken home prizes over competitors such as Yale University Press, Harvard University Press and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The gift packages – valued at $1,400 each – aimed to serve as a humble “token of our appreciation” and a sign of support for the work of art educators, said Jason Franz, Manifest’s executive director.

“Teaching art is under-appreciated in society today,” Franz said.

“Everyone on staff at Manifest is a degreed artist,” he continued. “We have all been students of art, and most of us have been educators and among the staff we represent over 35 years of college level teaching experience.”

The gift continues to “stun” Jennifer D. Monceaux, an art teacher at Little Miami High School. About half of the book collection is already in her Morrow classroom.

“I get a tear when I look through them knowing what a gift I was given,” said Monceaux, who’s also an adjunct instructor for the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

“The books are an inspiration in so many ways,” she added. “I can’t wait to truly dive into them myself and with everyone I know.”

Manifest Center Visual Arts
The Manifest campus “sanctuary” for study and contemplation

During the visit, Manifest Educational and Studio Program Manager Adam Mysock took the teachers on a tour. Franz described it as being given through an “educator’s lens.”

The group got an overview of the nonprofit’s programs and highlighted resources available to them, such as opportunities for ongoing professional practice.

Historically, Manifest’s studio programming has centered on drawing, painting and darkroom photography. But its new facility allows for the addition of printmaking.

Franz also offered Manifest as a potential resource to their students – whether they’re aspiring visual artists or want to harness skills for use in other careers.

Manifest’s gallery hosts free school visits throughout the school year. They include meetings with Manifest’s resident artists, and when desired, talks by its curatorial staff. After-school visits by art clubs are always welcome and encouraged as well.

Teen-specific programming includes a free 16-week darkroom photography program called the Envision Project. It will be in its eighth year starting later this fall and the application process is set to open very soon.

Monceaux has plans to give her students the information to sign up for some of the offerings at Manifest, especially those related to photography.

“This is a huge request from students as we no longer offer photography at my high school,” she said.

Franz credits his former art teacher in Clermont County, Jennifer Drydyk, with guiding his lifelong career in the visual arts. Just recently, Drydyk notified him in a letter that Manifest is going to be a beneficiary of her estate, making her the organization’s first planned giving donor.

Similar acts of generosity in the past are part of the reason the organization is able to begin its transition into the Manifest Center for the Visual Arts.

Drydyk’s act, Franz said, made him want to make the giving go “full circle,” and so Manifest hosted this event in order to thank, support, and give back to the arts educators of the region.

“Their (teaching) efforts really matter to Manifest, and we believe to the world at large,” Franz said.

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