Meet the Artist Series: Arnita Gunn-Mitchell

By: Jeff Gambrell

Butler County Connect Community News and Events

Hamilton artist/activist Arnita Gunn-Mitchell. Photo credit Jeff Gambrell

November 29, 2020

BUTLER COUNTY, OH – Selfless. Empathetic. Community-minded. These three words may very well best describe Hamilton artist/activist Arnita Gunn-Mitchell. A Chicago, Illinois native, Gunn-Mitchell moved to Hamilton, Ohio in 2005 and became actively involved in the community shortly thereafter. She enrolled at Miami University pursuing a BA in Psychology and later received her Master’s in Public Administration (2013) with certification in Nonprofit Management. Although she was already balancing a busy schedule with her pursuit in higher education, she didn’t allow that to stall her dreams of bringing the community together.

It all began in 2009 while Gunn-Mitchell was enrolled in a Psychology course. “One of the requirements for the course was to conduct a community service project”, says Gunn-Mitchell. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at the time but spring break was approaching and I decided to visit Jamaica. While there, I learned that coloring books are uncommon for children because it’s considered a luxury item so I returned to Jamaica again bringing with me books and crayons to pass out”.Her passion for her service project swiftly transitioned from course assignment to nonprofit with JamReads coming to fruition in 2012. JamReads still operates to this day providing children in Jamaica with books of their own to keep at home to promote literacy and education in an effort to help end poverty.

More recently, Gunn-Mitchell has combined her interest in chalk art and photography to bring about Beautiful Colors. The mission of Beautiful Colors is to bridge the racial divide in the community by creating intentional connections with individuals of all walks of life. Each month they host a chalk event open to the community called Chalk Together. “The purpose of the event is to forget about race or color and to just think about all the beautiful colors being made”, explains Gunn-Mitchell. “It’s about celebrating diversity and welcoming each other”. A side component of Beautiful Colors includes a teen group that comes together each month known as Colorful Chatter. They are composed of diverse youth of all backgrounds who are able to meet together in a safe space to discuss racial issues while creating art together.

Currently, Colorful Chatter consists of roughly ten teenagers who regularly attend each month, but they are open for more to be a part of the movement. For more information on how to be involved, visit Beautiful Colors at Facebook.com/BeautifulColors.