Spanish II students stand with their art exhibit.

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (September 28, 2022) Fort Wayne Museum of Art will host artwork from Whitley County Consolidated Schools (WCCS) students for the first time Sept. 24 through Nov. 13, honoring Shinzo Ohki.  

The Eagle Tech Academy students from Columbia City High School have committed to creating and exhibiting artwork for Dia de los Muertos or The Day of the Dead to honor Mr. Shinzo Ohki. The 12 students have planned and crafted an altar to celebrate the life of Shinzo Ohki and bring attention to Whitley County. They set up their art on September 21, with a field trip to The Fort Wayne Museum of Art. 

“Within this project we were able to cherish and fulfill the three C’s (collaboration, creativity, and culture). We were handed the opportunity to represent our city and celebrate the life of Shinzo Ohki for the Day of the Dead. Our group was crafty and productive. Not one of us was disappointed with our end product of our altar because of our dedication and perseverance. I am absolutely pumped to take a visit back to the art museum in November to see how the other group’s hard work paid off and how they portrayed a figure of their own. I’m excited to see more artistic talents and recognitions of Day of the Dead,” said Breanna Taylor, Spanish II student at Eagle Tech Academy. 

Shinzo Ohki is a celebrated entrepreneur, Rotary Club member and Columbia City citizen who graduated from Columbia City High School in 1907. The Oriental Shoyu Factory, often called “Show-You,” located on Factory Avenue in Columbia City, made fermented soy sauce, mung bean sprouts, chow mein noodles, chop suey and more. It was one of the first fermented soy sauce factories in the United States. 

“This was the first time in the academy’s history students have completed a project for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. To watch students work, ask questions and see the light bulbs come on in their minds was so neat to watch. Their plans changed multiple times and it looks amazing. These students represented our school and community very well, I’m so proud of them,” said Mrs. Nancy Beyhan, Spanish II teacher. 

As a celebrated community member, the City of Columbia City dedicated a whole space-making project to him by creating Ohki Alley in downtown Columbia City in 2020. 

“As an entrepreneur, artist, Rotarian, peacemaker and upstanding citizen, Shinzo Ohki embodied the spirit of our community. He cared deeply for our community, while staying true to his Japanese roots. Ohki Alley, located in the heart of Downtown Columbia City, is a gathering place that reflects his love for Columbia City, his native heritage, and the belief we are truly better together. I’m confident that Shinzo would be humbled to know he is being honored through the Alleyway and through the dedication of our students,” said Ryan Daniel, Mayor of Columbia City. 

The students’ art display was selected through an application process and will be on display at the Museum of Art through November 13, 2022.