Art is able to tell us a story of our past that words cannot. An old desk lays on display at the Southgate Street Museum in Newport, Kentucky. This seemingly unimportant piece of wood tells us an important story about our past.
An old copy of “Alice in Wonderland” sits on the desk, once belonging to an eager African-American child ready to learn and read about Alice’s wacky world.
An older set of casino chips is on display and explains more about Newport’s history than one might expect—such as the area’s prominent local gangsters.
These parts of Newport’s history is what Madeline Filimonov, an NKU student majoring in drawing, and other NKU art students set out to portray in their four murals outside of the museum.
The first mural draws light on the devastating fire that took place in Newport back in 1970. It also references the fire Newport faced recently in 2018. Its purpose is to commemorate the firefighters who saved lives on those days.
The second mural focuses on giving notice to the Southgate Street School, the building the Newport History Museum currently occupies. It features an African-American woman teaching children their school lessons.
The Southgate Street School served as the black school for Campbell County during segregation. The all-white and all-black schools were supposed to be separate but equal—with the education at an all-black school being equal to the all-white’s. The idea behind the Southgate Street School was to help the African-American children go further in life.
The third mural flashes images of three different great floods that affected Cincinnati and the areas nearby: 1907, 1913 and 1937. This is the mural Filmonov spent the most time working on—however, she contributed to each. The fourth and final mural showcases the history of local gangsters.
The murals were finished and put into place in February 2019. According to Filmonov, she felt that her driving force was her work’s importance to the community. They all put in “100 percent of our hearts and souls” into the project, she said. Their art pieces help shed light on the history of Newport that many in the area may not know about.