Cincinnati Museum Center, Word Play and Chase Public collaborate on FotoFocus exhibition

The Poetry of Felix J. Koch opens October 14 at the Hoffner Lodge Gallery

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is showcasing the photography of Felix J. Koch as part of the FotoFocus Biennial 2016. The exhibition, The Poetry of Felix J. Koch, is a collaborative creative writing project between Word Play, Chase Public and CMC. The exhibition opens October 14 at the Hoffner Lodge gallery in Northside.

The Poetry of Felix J. Koch pairs photographs taken by Koch between 1915 and 1930 with poems written by local high school students. Koch got his start in journalism as a writer at the Cincinnati Times-Star and then began a career as a freelance photographer in 1906, taking over 5,000 photographs of the Cincinnati area. During World War I he was the official War Department photographer for Cincinnati, documenting activities on the homefront during the war. Koch’s work is a portion of the more than 1 million photographs in CMC’s collections, the earliest in the collection dating back to the 1840s.

The FotoFocus Biennial 2016 theme is Photography, the Undocument, a nod to photography’s deceptively broad meaning. Photos are often perceived as unbiased snapshots of a moment in time, with the only message being the one the viewer imposes on it. A photo’s silence is its power. Unlike journal entries, articles or books, photos don’t tell you directly what to feel or think. That sentiment is your own.

Word Play, a local non-profit organization that nurtures a love of reading and creative writing, and Chase Public, a collaborative space for art, creativity and assembly, have asked high school students to share that sentiment. What do you see in Koch’s photos and what does it mean to you? Each poem is a student’s own reflection of the images and answers the question of what lies behind or beyond the camera lens.

“We always enjoy the work FotoFocus does around the city, showcasing an art medium that is so powerful and beautiful in its simplicity,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Collaborating with Word Play and Chase Public on our contribution for this year’s FotoFocus exhibition has resulted in a project that offers new perspective, and reflection, on 100-year-old photographs.”

The Poetry of Felix J. Koch will also feature an exhibition within the exhibition called “Photographing the Poem,” curated by Kip Eagen. Four teens from Word Play composed poems that local photographers will be challenged to visually interpret in three images.

The Poetry of Felix J. Koch will open October 14 and the poets will be asked to read their poems and speak about their experience working with the images. The exhibition will be open through November 12.

Word Play poets include Anais Alexandre Reverendo, Aniaya Hubble, Catherine Kremer and Chloe Constantinides.

Participating photographers include Brad A. Smith and Suzanne Leiko Fleming-Smith; Bryn Weller and Bob Burke; Jymi Bolden and Stephanie Baker; Regan Brown and Angela Braggs-Brown; Samantha Grier and friends; and Tony Walsh and Maureen France.

For more information on The Poetry of Felix J. Koch visit