If you’ve walked the Big Four Bridge and seen the Jeffersonville sign on top of the floodwall pumphouse or the electrical box in front of Kroger at Jeffersonville Commons, you’ve seen the work of Corey Ridings ’95, an art teacher at Jeffersonville High School. Having public art projects wasn’t necessarily something he set out to do intentionally, but rather the call for artists to submit their designs came at the right time for him.
The colorful art on top the pumphouse calls to mind the city’s historical industry of ship building with the word Jeffersonville reminiscent of a steamboat with smokestacks on top the Fs and a paddlewheel following the city’s name. Ridings said that he submitted an entry because the criteria fit his design style at the time.
“I got lucky and just happened to get chosen,” he said.
For that project, Ridings submitted his digital design, which was printed on weather resistant material and adhered on top of the building.
His electrical box design came about in much the same way. The Jeffersonville Public Arts Commission posted a call for design submissions for another round of electrical box paintings, and Ridings liked that there was no particular theme involved. He submitted a colorful design he had recently created on his own, and it was accepted. Installing that artwork was much more involved, however.
Ridings said most artists paint their design on their assigned electrical box in a weekend, and since he takes him time at painting, he already knew the timeframe would be a challenge. The extreme heat the weekend he started to paint brought on another challenge with the paint curing almost immediately once the brush touched the box. So he avoided the heat of the day by painting in the cooler mornings and evenings over the next week.
Now when he drives by Kroger or walks the bridge, he feels a part of a larger community of artists who are working to make Jeffersonville a visually interesting place to live, work, or visit.
“Everything that’s around the city, it just adds to it,” said Ridings, a lifelong Jeffersonville resident. “It makes Jeffersonville a much cooler place, a more interesting place. It’s now becoming more of a destination, not just a stopover.”
Ridings has has done some smaller less visible projects for the city at the request of his wife, Amber, who is the assistant director of parks and recreation. He will soon start working on a mural inside the Jeffersonville Animal Shelter over summer break at the request of a friend who works there.
Ridings said he hopes the artwork around the city and in the new arts district downtown brings about more art. He also wants to get his students involved in creating art for the arts district. After 18 years teaching art at Parkview Middle School – where he painted a mural on a shed wall – he is finishing up his first year at Jeff High. He was surprised at how many of his students were unaware of the Big Four Bridge and the artwork downtown, so helping them share their talent with the community like he has is just as meaningful to him as having his own work on public display.
“It’s good to see it every day in the city where I grew up,” Ridings said. “If it inspires somebody to do something creative then that’s worth doing.”