This mural honors Maria Occhipinti, a formidable Sicilian woman who became well known when she put her own life at risk trying to keep the men of Ragusa from being dragged back to war, and their families from being dragged further into poverty.
An outspoken champion and defender of the oppressed, Maria was ostracized for confronting injustice and violence against women and marginalized people.
This mural shows the determined gaze of a woman whose life was dedicated to fighting for personal freedom, and acknowledges her anti-war stance with a motif of olive branches.
Maria Occhipinti was a fearless woman who set an important example for generations to follow, and she deserves our gratitude.
Jenny Ustick was accustomed to painting large-scale murals before coming to Graniti, so she was excited to find the spectacular wall below Ristorante Flora to make her project. With the help of my friend Atalie Gagnet, the mural was completed in roughly two weeks in April and May of 2018.
Ustick is interested in images of national personification and allegory, and how countries and regions construct identities. The figure wears a Phrygian cap, an ancient symbol of freedom and self-determination. She is the embodiment of liberty and dignity. The background’s bright, bold knit stitches set against a rugged landscape represent unity and healing. This project was created with an awareness and respect of Sicily’s long history of cultural flux, and a desire for understanding with regard to shifting politics in the United States.
Jenny Roesel Ustick, a native of Cincinnati, is an accomplished Associate Professor of Practice and Foundations Coordinator in the School of Art – DAAP at the University of Cincinnati. With an MFA from the same program and a BFA from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role.
Ustick has made a name for herself as a prominent muralist in the region, having completed over 10 projects with ArtWorks and various independent commissions. Her impressive portfolio includes notable works such as the Mr. Dynamite (James Brown) mural in Cincinnati, which has garnered international acclaim.
Beyond her local achievements, Ustick’s talent has taken her across the United States, contributing to murals in Tennessee, New Mexico, Illinois, Kentucky, and Florida. She has been invited to participate in esteemed mural festivals, including Walls for Women in Tennessee and the CRE8IV Mural Festival in Rockford, Illinois. Moreover, Ustick has taken part in international mural residencies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Graniti, Sicily.
While Ustick’s mural work is renowned, she is also a versatile studio artist, exploring various media such as drawing, painting, textiles, and time-based installations. Her solo and collaborative works have graced the walls of prestigious galleries and museums across the country, including the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Dayton Art Institute, among others. She has also exhibited internationally at art fairs like Governors Island Art Fair in New York, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and ArtPrize.
In addition to her artistic endeavors, Ustick is a published critical art writer, having contributed essays to notable anthologies like The Cincinnati Anthology and Still They Persist: Protest Art from the 2017 Women’s Marches. Her work and collaborations have been featured in respected publications like American Quarterly, the Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, and La Sicilia, as well as various local media outlets.