Akron Black Artist Guild awards neighborhood-focused scholarships

What makes your neighborhood special? How do you know?

Several Akron artists will bring their visions to life in three neighborhoods over the next two months in projects sponsored by the Akron Black Artist Guild, with funding from the Downtown Akron Partnership.

The artists include: Akron’s Black Artists Invited to Black Artist Guild Launch

Floco Torres, project manager for the initiative, said the goal of the Reimagine Fellowship is to bring people together.

“We wanted to focus on neighborhoods that, you know, get the love sparingly – they don’t get as much love as, specifically, downtown. We wanted to pair three artists with the three neighborhoods…pair them with community organizations to create something that will continue the momentum with those neighborhoods and what those community organizations are doing in those neighborhoods.”

The scholarship provides artists with a stipend of $4,000 and $2,000 for materials.

Tyron Hoisten, one of the founding members of the Akron Black Artist Guild, said there were 20 scholarship applications. Applications were reviewed by a group of artists, community leaders and neighborhood representatives.

“We put together a jury to review their applications, to review their work, and from that we came out with three very strong artists.”

“The main thing we were looking for was genuine passion – passion that radiated through their candidacy through what they thought through their work,” he said. “We also wanted something that would bring people together.”

The projects are expected to be completed in June.

Focus on the people of Kenmore

Talia Hodge, who received one of the research grants, searched for people to photograph who symbolize the character of the Kenmore community.

Hodge, 26, a Kent State University photography graduate, said her goal was to use images to build a vision of the Kenmore community.

She said photography has been her passion since high school.

“I’d like to create a series of portraits that shine a light on individuals who are creating cool things, or doing cool things that aren’t necessarily hyped or talked about outside of the neighborhood, or even in the neighborhood,” she said.

Some examples include a local teen artist and a local music store, among others.

“I’m still putting together a list,” she said.

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Hodge said the final product is in the works, with the final display “to be determined.”

“I have some ideas of how I’d like to put it all together, but not how I’d like to display it,” she said.

Hodge said photography’s appeal to her is the opportunity to look at the world from her unique perspective.

“Something that I see that other people maybe don’t see, but it’s like something that I find attractive, beautiful or interesting, but also things that everyone can see but not consider further just a glance,” she said.

Artists Stephanie Stewart, Kayla Stewart and Talia Hodge stand in front of a mural last Tuesday at the Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron.

A portrait of West Akron

Artist Stephanie Stewart and her daughter Kayla, 20, are branching out from their pandemic-inspired business.

“The pandemic has stopped everything,” Stephanie said, explaining that after 20 years in the information technology industry, she found herself at home with her five children due to the closure. To cope with isolation, she brought together the skills of children to form P-31 Art & Design, an online business that creates journals, mugs, wall art, cards, kits and accessories. wearable art.

The company name stands for Proverbs, Chapter 31, which states “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

Stewart and her daughter said they were self-taught artists.

“I was working at the community garden at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and garden season ended, and it was, ‘OK, what do I do now?’ ‘ said Stephanie. “So I did like everyone else, I went from courtship to hobbies and just got bigger.”

Kayla, whose dance career suffered a setback due to a knee injury, joined her mother.

While Kayla took on marketing duties, the other children also got involved: one son took care of the accounts, another concentrated on writing publicity texts.

They plan to create a mural that will bring people together.

“We created ‘Our Path, Our Journey’ to essentially illustrate hope, rebuilding and community connection,” Stewart said. “West Akron is a hodgepodge of borders and sects and just – there’s this avenue and then there’s this road and north and south…

“We just wanted to create something that really gives light and value to the whole community; not northwest versus west versus southwest, just the community as a whole.”

The mural will feature images from different parts of the neighborhood, as well as a message from Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos, who wrote ‘What didn’t you do to bury me/But you forgot that I was a seed”. The verse is a call to stand up against persecution.

Back to Reservoir Park

A U.S. Army veteran who turned to graphic design for a career, Chris Harvey says he’s returning to where he spent many childhood hours playing basketball – the neighborhood where his grand- mother still lives.

Chris Harvey will focus on a project at Reservoir Park.

“My work is digital,” he said, explaining that he will create images to print on basketballs that will be available at Reservoir Park Community Center in Goodyear Heights.

“I’m going to take photos of everyday people playing basketball and incorporate them into this illustration using this photo as a reference,” he said. “I’m going to use local residents on different days at different times, make connections and just translate that into art.

“It’s like a colorful basketball, with art on it.”

Harvey said he had never tried this type of art before, but had examples of decorated balls created following championship wins and was able to create unique designs that would inspire fans. people.

A former infantryman in the Ohio National Guard, Harvey toured Egypt with the Multinational Force and observers monitoring the border with Israel. After his service, Harvey said he worked in security before deciding to become an artist and earn a degree in graphic design at Cuyahoga Community College.

He then worked as an art director for the news website The Devil Strip before the publication closed.

“I grew up in West Akron, didn’t I? But my grandmother, she lives four blocks from the reservoir, and the reservoir for me was one of the first places I could go,” did he declare. “It was like, ‘You’re older, it’s only up the street – go!’ “

He said basketball is a perfect way to bring people together.

“Basketball is one of those things that nobody really has to teach you how to play. It’s one of those things that once you know you can go anywhere and anyone. knows how to play by pretty much the same rules. It’s sort of self-governing in that sense.

“I like to look at the spirit of basketball and that’s what it’s all about – the intersection of art and non-art sectors. Basketball is seen as a sector non-artistic, but I think there is an artistic aspect to basketball, because everyone plays differently or is inspired by someone else.

“Also, basketball is very community-oriented. It’s very cordial, most of the time. It’s still a competitive sport, but it’s community-building, in addition to the autonomy. I thought that was an interesting intersection and the topic of my fellowship.”

About the Black Artists Guild of Akron

The Akron Black Artist Guild officially organized in 2021 as an organization with the goal of creating a networking association and support system for black creative talent in Akron.

The group received seed funding of $20,600 from the Knight Foundation and administrative support from ArtsNow, which spearheaded Akron’s collaborative cultural plan.

Hoisten said the guild hopes to work with Reimagine Fellowship applicants who have not been accepted through workshops and continuing education.

“We work to make sure that the artists who apply are absolutely putting their best foot forward in terms of professionalism, in terms of a professional portfolio,” he said, adding that some applicants have not developed a portfolio of their work.

“We always want to relate to them – they are always important.”

Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MarottaEric.

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