Short North Arts District

There is yet another new way to experience public art in the Short North Arts District through the lens of an exciting new technology. Visitors are now encouraged to experience the three-part mural The Journey through an entirely different view: an augmented reality app that is now available to bring to life flying hummingbirds, blooming florals, breathing Mythical Gods, and intricate background motifs.

The Journey murals, created by Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati and Eric “Zoueh” Skotnes, are some of the tallest in the City of Columbus and were completed in September 2019 on the new Graduate Columbus hotel, which opened this fall. The murals depict the journey of a hummingbird connecting man to the gods, with the mythological figures signifying the prosperity of Columbus and the Short North Arts District, while the figure of a Somali woman wearing a traditional guntiino represents the journey of new Americans in Columbus, a welcoming city. The woman depicted in the mural is Hodan Mohammed, leader of the local Somali community organization Our Helpers and founder of the Columbus Somali Festival.

To further the engagement with the murals, the Short North Alliance and the artists partnered with famed Portland, Oregon-based firm Augmented Island Studios to create an augmented reality experience. Members of the public can now download “The Journey Cbus,” a free app on the Google Play and Apple stores found here, and experience different scenes within the artwork through augmented reality. Users simply point their mobile device at any side of the mural and are transported into another dimension, where all elements of Sarfati and Skotnes’ work comes to life. Presently, there is only one other mural in the U.S. using augmented reality, making this a one-of-a-kind addition to the Short North Arts District.

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes were selected through a national call for artists to create the murals. The artists, both prolific in the 1990s LA street art and graffiti community, have built professional careers working in the film industry and as international muralists. Their murals appear in over 20 countries across the globe, with each uniquely influenced by their street art roots.

“We are inspired by the investments that a partner like the Graduate Columbus has made in both elevating artists in public space and arming artists with new tools to make large scale works in Columbus,” said Betsy Pandora, Executive Director of the Short North Alliance. “Graduate Columbus, already a welcome addition to the Short North Arts District, will be a destination experience for many years to come.”

Graduate Columbus Mural Project is made possible with support from AJ Capital Partners, Graduate Columbus, the Short North Alliance Art Fund, Columbus Inspires, and the Create Columbus Commission.

Additionally, support for the Short North Alliance’s 2019 public art season of programs comes from the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

close up photo of smartphone
Photo by Oleg Magni on