Meet Jori Kent : Artist Behind a New Uptown Restaurant's Stunning 60-Foot Mural

This Summer, in the space that was formerly 12th Street Deli, a new restaurant is in the works that has put art and culture at the top of its priority list. Vertigo Fusion Kitchen will be brought to Columbus by the same team behind The Black Cow and Smoke Bourbon and BBQ. Though not open just yet, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at Vertigo's new show-stopping 60-foot mural by local artist and CSU student Jori Kent.

If Jori Kent isn't a name you're familiar with yet, buckle up. The artist's contribution to the restaurant is a standout among a growing number of public murals popping up around Uptown. Kent's talent is on full display, and we're thrilled to bring you the story behind her debut piece.

Read on to discover Kent's process in creating the new mural, and catch a glimpse of what you can expect to see when Vertigo Fusion Kitchen opens its doors.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Story by Carrie Beth Wallace.

Images property of The Columbusite unless otherwise noted.

Q: Jori, I'm looking at an incredible piece of art that I can't wait to ask you about, but let's start at the beginning. Where are you from?

A: I'm from here. I spent my childhood in Phenix City, and then moved out to Harris County for high school. After graduation, I began studying art at CSU where I'll be a sophomore this year.

Q: What is your declared major at CSU?

A: I'm studying visual art with a painting focus.

Q: What inspires you when you paint?

A: A lot of the time lately it's been more from a literature standpoint. I'll just read something and begin work based on the literature that grips me. For example, there's one really old poem called "One for Sorrow" that focuses on the superstition of magpies and I'm in the middle of a ten-painting series based on the poem. I've taken the poem line-by-line and done a painting for each of them.

Q: How did you get connected with Denise Stickney and Stephanie Woodham to create this beautiful mural in their new restaurant?

A: I have known Denise for awhile, and she just reached out and asked me if I would be willing to work on a mural for them.

Q: Have you done any murals before?

A: I have, but never something this big. While I have mural experience, I've never done something to this scale before. At first, I'd heard they were going to commission some paintings for the space, but when I heard they wanted a mural, I assumed it would be a regular wall size. I had no idea it would be 60 feet by 16 feet. It's been a really fun challenge to create something this size.

Q: How did you do it? What was your process like?

A: I mean, 60 feet by 16 feet meant that I had to measure it out and make a small model first. I needed to be able to map it all out so I could transfer it.

Q: Wow. Was that a difficult thing to do?

A: Well, by the time I got to actually painting the mural, I had drawn it out at various sizes about six or seven times. I drew it out first and made it into a wooden model for their approval. Then, to get it on the wall I projected it. I couldn't just use the model though, I had to divide it up into individual transparent sheets to put across the board so I could get it to size. I then redrew it for the third or fourth time and once we had everything drawn out to scale, I was able cast it onto the wall and create the actual mural.

Q: Was this a daunting process? Or exciting to you as an artist?

A: Both. When I first saw the size of the wall and they said, "We want you to paint this." I was terrified. But then I thought about it and thought, "if other artists can do this then why can't I?"

I just realized that clearly it can be done, so why not do it myself? I knew I could do it.

Q: Our team is so thrilled to see all of the public art popping up around town. What's it like to be a part of that? Because this is definitely going to be another local icon of that movement.