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Audience of 1: Healing Power of Snack Bags

(Henry Rubey/Media)

While upper school students had a half and then a full day off on October 21 and 22 because of parent-teacher conferences, the Upper School Art Department was busy installing the new “Audience of 1” art exhibit on the second floor of the Morris Hall Art Building. Today, 102 brown paper snack bags decorated in vibrant, hand-drawn color fill both floors of the gallery.

Tattoo artist Jeff Stelle first began creating these one-of-a-kind artworks as a form of art therapy for his son, Edwin, who suffered from anxiety during kindergarten. What started out for Jeff as drawing a simple “E” in black sharpie on Edwin’s snack bag transformed into spending twenty minutes every morning creating elaborate drawings consisting of aliens, movie characters, and snack-related puns. 

What Stelle did not know was that his son was storing these bags, curating his own personal collection. To Edwin, these specially-designed snack bags held a special healing power, giving him something to look forward to when days of school seemed never-ending. Stelle realized the power they held after finding a stash of 25 snack bags Edwin had hidden in their couch, and with the support of his clients, Stelle decided to display about a 100 bags he drew for Edwin in a Gahanna art show. Unsurprisingly, he received overwhelmingly positive feedback, bringing in investors that helped display these colorful creations to a much larger audience. Over time, Stelle’s small project meant for only his son to see has transformed into a statewide art exhibit with packs of snack bags available for sale. 

“Audience of 1” made its way to Columbus Academy after a small display in a barbershop caught the eye of art teacher Pedro Mena’. Intrigued by the bags and the message they carried, Mena contacted Stelle to see upon it that a larger collection visited the school. “Audience of 1” will stay up in Morris Hall through winter break, giving ample time for all students to visit the exhibit and get a taste of relief during or after a long, hard day. Just as Edwin did. 


Read about “Audience of 1” featured in the Columbus Monthly at:


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