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Photo credit: Taft Museum of Art

Ya’Ke Smith is named the 2019 Duncanson Artist-in-Residence at Taft Museum of Art.


The Taft Museum of Art and the Duncanson Society have selected filmmaker Ya’Ke Smith as the 2019 Duncanson Artist-in-Residence. Ya’Ke Smith, known for his unflinching and veracious style of storytelling, is a rising voice in independent cinema. His films have received worldwide acclaim, screening and winning awards at more than 90 film festivals. He currently writes and directs television content for AMS Pictures and the REELZ Network and serves as an associate professor of film at the University of Texas at Austin.


Film Screening and Panel Discussion: Heavenly
Saturday, October 12, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
School of Creative and Performing Arts
FREE Entry – Tickets required
Come see Duncanson Artist-in-Residence Ya’Ke Smith’s latest short film Heavenly. A beautifully crafted film with a provocative storyline, Heavenly will keep you thinking long after you leave the theater. Meet the filmmaker and stay for the panel discussion following the screening to learn more about the issues presented in the film and what you can do to make a difference in your community.

About the Film: Heavenly (2019) running time: 12 1/2 minutes
Crystal, a former ballet dancer, returns home after being sex-trafficked and struggles to shake the physical and psychological trauma she endured while “in the life.”
This film contains mature content and themes.
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Film as Activism: A Conversation with Ya’Ke Smith
Wednesday, October 16, 7:30 p.m.
The Esquire Theatre
Join the Taft Museum of Art & Cincinnati Film Society for an inspiring evening of film and conversation. Duncanson Artist-in-Residence, Ya’Ke Smith, will show excerpts of his work and speak about how he creates art to spark conversation about often overlooked but highly relevant socio-political topics.

This program is an hour-long moderated talk interspersed with film excerpts. The film excerpts may contain mature content and themes. A 15 minute Q&A with the audience will follow the talk. FREE tickets are available on a first-come-first-served basis the day of the event at the Esquire box office. Event sponsored by The Esquire Theatre.


THRIVE: Forward
Thursday, October 17, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Historic Union Hall, 1311 Vine Street, Over-the-Rhine
FREE Entry – Tickets Required
Celebrate the closing of the 33rd annual Duncanson Artist-in-Residence with THRIVE: Forward presented by Elementz and the Taft Museum of Art! Join us for an artistic evening exploring themes of life, loss and transformation through film, spoken word, and music.

Doors open at 7 p.m. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. Reservations recommended: or 513-684-4516. The nearest parking options are at the Mercer Garage, 1312 Vine Street, across from Union Hall, or at the Washington Park Garage. Note: The venue of this event has changed to Historic Union Hall.
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Want more history? Visit these Cincinnati Black Historic sites.


About The Duncanson Society
The Duncanson Artist-in-Residence Program was established in 1986 to honor the achievements of contemporary African American artists working in a variety of disciplines. The program honors the relationship between African American painter Robert S. Duncanson and his patron, Nicholas Longworth, who commissioned Duncanson to paint landscape murals in the foyer of his home, now the Taft Museum of Art. The breadth of talent featured throughout the history of the residency has been matched by its depth of programming and outreach to the Cincinnati community.


The Robert S. Duncanson Society was originated in 1986 by Doris Rankin Sells, William Joel McCray, and Ruth K. Meyer to affirm an ongoing African American presence within the structure of the Taft Museum of Art and to celebrate Robert S. Duncanson’s artistic contributions.


The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans in the region. Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Facebook or text VOBC to 513-270-3880 for local news, events, job postings, scholarships and a database of local Black-owned businesses.

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Written by Crystal Kendrick

President of The Voice of Your Customer and founder of The Voice of Black Cincinnati.