Five Women to Celebrate- My Summer as an ArtWorks Apprentice


Rose Joffe, Co-Editor, '21

This past summer, I was part of a team of Artworks apprentices that painted the “Time Saved vs. Time Served” mural on West Court Street. I worked alongside two teaching artists and a team of eight apprentices from high schools and colleges across the Cincinnati area. Artworks’ 200th mural, “Time Served Vs. Time Saved” was designed to highlight five previously incarcerated women from the Cincinnati area who are now social justice advocates. This mural aims to remove the stigma that surrounds returning citizens by humanizing and celebrating these women who are working to make positive change in their communities. The mural’s location near City Hall is symbolic as it forces those who enter and leave the courthouse to confront these women and their examples.

Tyra Patterson, the woman behind the concept of the mural, is an inspiration. My team and I met Tyra a week into our project, when she spent the afternoon with us and she explained the meaning of the mural and told us her story. At twelve years old, Tyra dropped out of school and at nineteen, she was convicted of a crime she did not commit. Tyra, who arrived in prison illiterate, educated herself in prison, earned her GED, a steam engineer’s license, and completed a paralegal training program. After spending twenty-three years of her life wrongfully incarcerated, Tyra was released by Governor DeWine. She now works as the community outreach strategy specialist at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center and works as an inmate advocate who helps others reduce their sentences. “Time Saved Vs. Time Served,” the first ArtWorks mural to address the complex issue of mass incarceration, was inspired by Tyra, who worked as its creative director. Meeting Tyra helped my team understand the significance of our project. As Tyra explained to us, returning citizens are often brushed aside by society. The presence of the mural in downtown Cincinnati will help inspire empathy by displaying returning citizens in a positive light and highlighting their dedication to the city and their community.

Tracy Brumfield, whose portrait appears next to Tyra’s on the mural, proves that people are so much more than their mistakes. My team met Tracy, Tyra, and the other three women featured on the mural as part of our team-bonding every Friday afternoon. Tracy introduced herself to us as ”a person recovering from the disease of addiction” and explained that for years she had grappled with an addiction to heroin which led to her prison sentence. After she overcame her addiction, Tracy began dedicating her time to others, volunteering and working shifts at the Center for Addiction treatment. Tracy overcame her addiction, served her sentence, and decided, like Tyra, that it wasn’t enough. It was Tracy’s firsthand struggle with addiction and her passion for helping others overcome addiction that inspired her to start RISE, a publication that provides information and resources to inmates in preparation for their release. RISE, which stands for ‘Reenter into Society Empowered’, aims to help inmates and people who struggle with addiction, providing them with resources for housing, support, and career counseling.

Through my work on “Time Saved Vs. Time Served” mural, I not only met five inspiring women, but I also learned about the hardships that many returning citizens face. After a person serves their sentence, their past mistakes make it nearly impossible to open a bank account, find housing, and get a job. These struggles make it exceedingly difficult for returning citizens to rebuild their lives. The stigma surrounding returning citizens perpetuates the cycle of mass incarceration as many, unable to find work and support themselves, fall back into old habits and end up back in prison. The most important lesson I learned this summer was that a person’s mistakes do not define them and that “we are all worthy of a second chance”, as Tyra Patterson reminded my team. The five amazing women featured on the mural have persevered and dedicated themselves to serving others in their community. Working on the mural, I was able to educate myself about issues such as mass incarceration and wrongful incarceration while learning technical artistic skills with a talented team of artists from all over Cincinnati. I am so grateful for this experience, and I highly recommend that anyone interested in the visual arts apply to the Artworks apprentice program. Check out the website at or feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about the application process.