Columbus, Ohio #3: The Faces of Columbus


34″ x 34″

This photoquilt is the third in a series of maps of Columbus, Ohio.  The first included the median home values for every zip code in Columbus and the second tallied the number of homicides in each zip code.  This photoquilt incorporates census data from 2016 for each zip code in and around Columbus.

In this photoquilt, I took a picture of the statue of Christopher Columbus which stands on the Statehouse grounds downtown.  The image varies based on the demograhics of the population in each zip code — the whiter the population of a zip code was, the whiter I made the squares that make up that zip code.  The blacker the population, the blacker the photo.  Of course, there are also people who do not identify as only black or white.  In those cases, the photos representing the zip codes are also less black and white or more colorful.

Viewed next to the maps in the series, this photoquilt reveals some similar patterns.  Clearly, there are some strong correlations between wealth and violence and race in Columbus.  My goal with all three maps is to present this data in an objective and visually interesting way.  While I know the former is impossible, I feel like I’ve succeeded on the latter.


Ohio Star: Ohio State Fair


72″ x 48″

The first time I incorporated imagery from the Ohio State Fair into a photoquilt, I used an image that included people, rides, ticket booths, and more.  But for this photoquilt, I pared things back to just the essentials: one roller coaster track against the clear, blue sky.

The green-yellow-blue palette is not one I’m naturally drawn to, but the swirling, swooping structure really works well in the Ohio Star block.  Colorful metal beams merge and twist into increasingly complex kaleidoscopic shapes that commonly result from the Ohio Star pattern.


Ohio Star: North Market


72″ x 48″

The North Market is a veritable institution in Columbus.  If you have friends or family visiting the city for the first time, you will probably take them here for a scoop of Jeni’s ice cream, some pierogies, a bowl of pho, a maple-bacon doughnut, or any of several other delicacies.

I wasn’t sure about using this image in a photoquilt, but my wife encouraged me to give it a shot and I’m glad that I did.  The image itself has more detail than I usually like to include, but this gives the photoquilt a rich and ornate feel, a bit like hand-woven rug.  This may also be due to the rich golds and reds or the stark patterns created by the beams that hold the market together.


Columbus, Ohio #2: Homicide Map


34″ x 34″

This photoquilt is the second in a series of maps of Columbus, Ohio.  The first included the median home values for every zip code in Columbus.  This one records the number of homicides in each zip code.

Sadly, Columbus set a new record for the number of homicides in 2017 with 143.  In this photoquilt, every square in a given zip code receives a line of red stitching for each homicide in that zip code which ranges from 0 to 17.


The differences between neighboring zip codes are striking and, perhaps not surprisingly, correlate strongly with the median home values within each zip code.

I chose an image of a gun because 83% of the homicides involved a gun.  The photo is a picture of an old toy gun that I dug up in my backyard and photographed against my patio.  I really struggled with an appropriate image to use, but went with this one because it has a camouflage feel.

Because one image is used for the entire map, the zip codes are not as easy to distinguish.  However, clear patterns emerge as some zip codes are much redder than others.

Columbus, Ohio #1: Median Home Value

34″ x 34″

This is the first in a series of maps of Columbus, Ohio that I am making by sewing photographs together.  Each map will incorporate some set of data related to the city.  This map features the median home value for each zip code from 2015 US census data.

Within each zip code, I have taken a picture of a house for sale at or near the median home value.  The photo of the home with the highest value ($310,000) is tinted green while the photo of the home with the lowest value ($55,000) is not.  I have then tinted each photo green proportionally to the values in between.

photo squares for columbus map 1Keeping 576 squares organized.

Through color, a map of the city is formed.  The northwest quadrant, much of which is not technically Columbus, includes suburbs (Upper Arlington, Dublin, Hilliard) with very high home values.  This green area stretches down past the Ohio State campus (blank, because there are not homes for sale within the 43210 zip code) into downtown and German Village.  Another suburb within the city, Bexley, is the green rectangle just southeast of center.  Although I have left roads off the map, several are still easy to find.  The most obvious to me is I-71, which runs north-south through the top of the map.  To the west, median home values are quite high, while to the east they are much lower.

This map, and the data it depicts, is the result of several societal trends and civic decisions over the history of the city.  This piece is also a reflection on my ability to create an objective record of that history.  This map is a neutral artifact in the sense that it is a set of data that has been put through a algorithmic process.  This is the result.  On the other hand, it is impossible to design an algorithm without some cultural and personal bias.  In this way, this photoquilt cannot be completely free of bias, much like the very map it depicts.

The process of converting the map to a grid was an interesting challenge.  The short video below summarizes my process.  Look for more data-driven photoquilt maps soon.


Ohio Star: Clintonville Farmers Market

Ohio Star: Clintonville Farmers Market photoquilt block

12″ x 12″

I created this photoquilt block for a show at Global Gallery, a coffee shop that also sells handcrafted fair trade items from around the world.  The theme of the show was the Clintonville Farmers Market, the hub of which is Global Gallery.  The market features an array of vendors that sell fresh produce, local meats and cheeses, coffee, honey, flowers, and more.  People from around the neighborhood, and throughout the city, make a pilgrimage every Saturday.  In addition to all of the great stuff for sale, I really enjoy the community spirit and civic pride on display.  One of my favorite features is the bike corral, which is operated by Baer Wheels, a local bike shop across the street from the market.  They will keep an eye on your bike while you shop the market so that you don’t have to worry about your bike riding off without you.  The original photo of the corral is below.


Ohio Star: Clintonville Farmers Market - original image
Original image for Ohio Star: Clintonville Farmers Market

Although there are lots of colorful sights at the market, this image is the one that stuck out for me.  First, the bike corral may not be the first feature you think about when you think about the Farmers Market, but it’s a useful service that helps people get to the market under their own power, which I think is fantastic.  Second, I really like the colors in the mural on the half wall.  It’s an interesting wedge of rainbow that breaks up the larger areas of brick and concrete.  Finally, I love the random lines and angles of the bike frames, wheels, and shadows.  When they are reflected in their mirror images, they kaleidoscope off in all kinds of interesting directions.  In the detail below, you can see how the bike parts and mortar lines between the bricks line up to create this effect.


Ohio Star: Clintonville Farmers Market - detail
Detail of Ohio Star: Clintonville Farmers Market

This 12″ x 12″ block is available for purchase, framed or unframed.  Please contact me directly for pricing and other details.  See more 12″ blocks or 24″ blocks.


Ohio Star: Park of Roses

Ohio Star: Park of Roses Photoquilt

72″ x 48″

This photoquilt was inspired by a show at Wild Goose Creative, called What Is It About This Place? A Neighborhood Art Show Featuring Works by or About Glen Echo, SoHud, and Clintonville, Ohio.  It is part of my series of Ohio Star photoquilts, which incorporate the Ohio Star quilt pattern and feature places around Ohio.  This one began with this picture of the gazebo at the Park of Roses in Clintonville, which is a neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio.  I took the picture just before sunset, which accounts for both the silhouette of the structure and the color of the sky, which fades from bright blue to yellow to orange.

Ohio Star: Park of Roses - Original Image
Original image for Ohio Star: Park of Roses

As with my other Ohio Star photoquilts, I used a different part of the original photo for each row of blocks in the quilt, which is why the different kaleidoscopic shapes evolve from the top to the bottom.  The geometric latice-work of the top also contrasts with the curling filigree scrolls of the railing, creating unique and interesting shapes when they meet in different parts of the quilt.

Ohio Star: Park of Roses Photoquilt - Close Up
Close up of Ohio Star: Park of Roses

Ohio Star: Park of Roses Photoquilt - Extreme Close Up
Closer close up of Ohio Star: Park of Roses

This photoquilt was on display at Wild Goose Creative for the month of July, 2017.  Even if you’re not able to get there in time for this show, check them out.  They are a great, non-profit community arts organization that is worthy of your support.

Photo of the opening at Wild Goose Creative by Erin Aluise, used with permission.


blanket full

30″ x 48″

Coming up for a name for this photoquilt was actually a bit of a challenge. Originally, I was thinking about something clever like Give Me 300, a nod to the number of high fives in all of the photos. But in the end, I settled on Blanket because the quilt looks so much like a woven blanket from the American Southwest, Mexico, and many other places. In fact, the blanketness was so compelling that I used multicolored cotton thread and added some decorative stitches in addition to those that sew the photos together. So, in a way, Blanket has more quilting than most of my other photoquilts.

The original photo that I used for this photoquilt was taken by my friend Mark Koenig at Ohio State’s Knowlton School of Architecture, a location that has previously been the subject of one of my Ohio Star photoquilts. When I was talking to Mark about making an Ohio Star photoquilt using one of his photos, I chose two images as possible subjects. This is the one I didn’t use. I love the colors and the composition, but in the end I didn’t think the lines would work well in an Ohio Star. After deciding it wouldn’t make a good Ohio Star, I laid the prints out in neat rows, which brought out a repetitive, woven quality. The repetition is similar to several of my other non-Ohio Star photoquilts. But in those quilts, each image varies very slightly (or fully, completely), whereas in Blanket there is simply a single photo and its mirror image.

What started as a stack of rejected prints has become a bridge between my different series of photoquilts and a chance to try new quilterly techniques. The result has a certain comfortableness that wears the name Blanket well.

See more of Mark Koenig’s work on Instagram.

Blanket - original image
Blanket – original image, courtesy of Mark Koenig
Blanket - detail
Blanket – detail

Ohio Star: State Fair

Ohio Star: State Fair photoquilt

24″ x 24″

The Ohio State Fair attracts almost a million visitors to Columbus each summer.  Whether you go for the animals, the butter cow, the deep-fried foods, the games, or the rides, as the cliche goes, there is something for everyone.  This photoquilt came out of a series of panoramas I took at the fair in 2015.  In this photo, both the straight and the curved lines of the ferris wheel reflect and refract against the cloudy blue sky as fairgoers stream past or line up for a ride.  The wheel never fully resolves into a circle, instead merging into its neighbors, each of which is held in place by red steel girders which sometimes float in the sky.  The overall effect is like that of a zipper, stitching the fair to the sky.

I usually choose more austere subjects for my quilts because I tend to be drawn to clean lines and shapes, like in the Columbus Museum of Art.  But there are times, like in Ohio Stadium, when I can’t avoid a crowd, which usually sprials off into a tunnel of heads and feet.  When I use pictures with cleaner shapes, I feel like I have more control.  But, sometimes, I need to step outside of my comfort zone to see what happens when I start with a photo that is a bit messier and less organized.  Sometimes art, like life, and like the state fair, can be a bit messy and hard to control.

This quilt was displayed with You’re Not Going to Wear That, Are You? at the 2016 Ohio State Fair, where it received a Juror’s Choice Award and was called one of the most impressive works in its category by Nancy Gilson in the Columbus Dispatch.

show 2


Ohio Star: State Fair photoquilt - original image
Ohio Star: State Fair photoquilt – original image
Ohio Star: State Fair photoquilt block
Ohio Star: State Fair photoquilt block ($100)
Ohio Star: State Fair photoquilt close up
Ohio Star: State Fair photoquilt close up

Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo

Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo

24″ x 24″

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the finest zoos in the country.  Opened in 1927 and made famous by Jack Hanna, the Zoo has recently opened polar and African savanna regions.  On a recent school field trip with my youngest daughter, I was wondering how I would capture this sprawling place in one photo.  The front gates make a nice picture, and the manatees are a unique favorite, but neither one could really be framed in the way I wanted.  Fortunately, we made our way to the polar bears during feeding time.  There was a crowd up top, so we moved down below the water, where the bears were diving in and swimming around after bits of fish that were being tossed in by the keepers.  The fish that swim with the bears were also enjoying a meal.  With everything swimming around and the morning sun shining through the water, I got several interesting pictures of the bears, the fish, and the rays of light streaming through the water.  When sewn into to the Ohio Star pattern, the diving bears multiply and the fish become brushstrokes that create shapes and designs that I didn’t expect.  Overall, the palette really captures the feeling of being underwater.


Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo - original image
Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo – original image
Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo - 12" block
Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo – 12″ block
Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo - closeup
Ohio Star: Columbus Zoo – closeup