Supporting equitable public arts | People’s Defender

Members of The Trillium Project (Photo by Toni Dengel)

Members of The Trillium Project (Photo by Toni Dengel)

By Sherry Larson

People’s Defender

Art is sacred, personal, and universal. Art transcends cultural boundaries, bridges a divide and draws attention to our shared humanity. Through art, we can appreciate those things that are beyond our experience.

Over four years ago, an idea sparked and formed an organization that built a team of individuals who collectively formed the 501C3 The Trillium Project. Founder and Executive Director Amanda Lewis, a fine arts major at Shawnee University, worked in the Portsmouth community and made connections with many local artists and organizations. She and others saw a need to address civic participation, youth engagement, and economic development. Through her volunteer efforts and meeting with local artists, they questioned, “How can we tackle some of these issues in a socially responsible, grassroots way leveraging our core values and local support from our community?”

Amidzt the COVID pandemic, the group became a 501C3 and spent the next couple of years planning the Project and applying for grants. They aspired to work in Portsmouth using visual arts and ensure that opportunities were provided first and foremost to those on the margins who had been denied opportunities or access. “It’s important to us to stay local, connect local, hire people, and engage folks who might not have had those opportunities before.”

Projects began in mid-2023 when the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Project $50,000 for the “Our Town Program.” The group is using the funds for their Second Glance Initiative.

“Second Glance is a two-year collaborative art-making project to engage and empower the Portsmouth community and revitalize areas of impact by installing community-created art.” ( Lewis explained that the exhibited art will be in areas like sidewalks, crosswalks, and exterior buildings in Portsmouth’s under-utilized and underserved spaces. The hope is to drive tourism and economic development.

Fundraisers for the Second Glance Initiative are underway. One collaborative fundraiser will be held with Flock Fine Dining at The Landing at Brush Creek, LLC on June 14. The evening will include a six-course meal and mocktail hour. Tickets were $100 each and sold out quickly. Proceeds for the dinner will go towards the Trillium Project’s Second Glance and Flock’s “Hope You’re Well” Project. “Hope You’re Well” is a creative idea from Flock’s owners Colleen Crawford and Blake Larson, whose ambition is to create a safe lodging space for young adults after aging out of the foster care system.

“We look for every opportunity to get involved and support other locally owned businesses,” said Lewis. She elaborated that the core of everything they do is supporting those in marginalized populations. Larson said, “We learned about Trillium through our friend Ali Hull at Align Massage Therapy when she hosted the incredible block party for her grand opening. We reached out to Amanda to see if we could join forces and immediately hit it off. We all have projects with similar visions and are a powerful team working together.” Crawford added, “Understanding the impact art had in my own life, it felt imperative to get involved with The Trillium Project to continue its momentum and cultivate a community free to express themselves artistically.”

The Trillium Project wishes to expand into Lawrence County, Ashland, Kentucky, and Huntington, West Virginia, in the next three to five years. Although initially they did not plan on venturing into Adams County, Lewis said, “We are totally open.” Within the last month, they have also received emails and contacts from Ross County showing an interest in implementing similar projects there. “We will likely expand into Adams and Ross in those timeframes,” said Lewis.

Artists who want to get involved with The Trillium Project should contact Lewis at (740) 352-4498 or reach out through their website at Share your art, and the Project will determine where it fits; set up a meeting with the artists’ team and move forward.

The Project’s art will be on display and for sale at The Landing at Brush Creek, LLC Greenhouse on Wednesdays from June 19 through July 10 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., and July 14th’s Lobsta Bake & Steak Fest from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (tickets still available at

Support equitable public arts and celebrate the inspired artists who make it happen.

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