CLEVELAND, Ohio – To mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire that gave Cleveland the nickname “Mistake on the Lake,” the Cleveland Foundation is sponsoring 11 public art projects – from a seven-day river walk to a public spectacle on the Detroit-Superior Bridge.
The Cleveland Foundation has sponsored Creative Fusion programs, bringing nearly 100 artists to Cleveland since 2008. This year’s Waterways to Waterways edition is the foundation’s largest.
“I think there is excitement,” said Stephen Love, the Cleveland Foundation’s program officer for environment. “More so there’s an opportunity to reframe the narrative… This shows how we took a leadership stance and led the way. This is an opportunity to continue to address challenges that continue to plague waterways now.”
The foundation is working with the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Print Room, Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, LAND Stuido, Praxis Fiber Workshop and Global PechaKucha Night this year, for projects and events that stretch from January until the anniversary weekend June 20-22. International artists are paired with local artists.
The foundation uses the term artist loosely. There are designers, speakers, photographers and more.
The whole idea is to engage Clevelanders and create solutions to our water struggles.
“The hope is that some innovation comes out of here,” said Lillian Kuri, the foundation’s vice president for strategic grantmaking, arts and urban design initiatives. “Ideas and projects identify opportunities that we might focus on going forward. So it doesn’t just stop at the end of this year.”
Creative Fusion is part of the broader Cuyahoga50 initiative, a host of activities throughout 2019 celebrating clean water.
“There is much to celebrate in Cleveland around the rebirth of the Cuyahoga River,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. “It is a fitting tribute to see the environmental strides we’ve made as a city commemorated in the work of these well-respected artists.”
Here’s a list of projects to look forward to:
Biomimicry: German architect and planner Lukas Kronawitter will work with Cleveland Institute of Art Professor Doug Paige and a team of students to design, test, and build a functional, scaled model of a green bulkhead that will combine human-made elements and vegetation to help emulate the flow and function of natural river systems.
Aerial photographs: Ethiopian photographer and photojournalist Michael Tsegaye, whose aerial photography includes the patchwork farmland in Ethiopia, will be the Cleveland Print Room’s international artist in residence. He will create an exhibition of aerial photographs of the Cuyahoga River and its crooked bend from a helicopter with local artist, John W. Carlson.
Cuyahoga River walk: Native American artist Sharon Day, an Ojibwe elder from Minnesota, will lead a river walk along the entire stretch of the Cuyahoga. Tri-C student Erahlea Harnett will create an artistic-driven documentary to exhibit.
Cuyahoga River bridges: Photographer and artist Sophie Schwartz, a Cleveland native, will capture people using the bridges in a photo essay. Her project will juxtapose a photographic survey of the existing structures with archival images and architectural drawings of bridges on the river.
River Water Soup: The Cleveland Print Room’s Teen Institute arts mastery students will capture the traces of the overlooked and unseen along the Cuyahoga River, using an alternative photographic cyanotype process.
Detroit-Superior Bridge: Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative has selected Squidsoup, a UK-based design collaborative, to immerse visitors in an interactive experience on the streetcar level of the bridge, transforming it into a signature public space and bicycle/pedestrian connection.
International Design Exchange: Cleveland-based graduate students in architecture and urban design will work with students from the University de Medellin in Columbia, and the Lebanese American University in Beirut in an exchange of ideas.
Riverview Terrace: LAND studio and Cleveland artist Malaz Elgemiabby will transform the former community center at Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Riverview Terrace property in Ohio City. The redeveloped space will serve as public gathering space, gallery, an information center on Irishtown Bend and Cleveland’s waterways, a demonstration site for sustainable building materials, and a programming space for Creative Fusion.
Praxis banner: Venezuelan artists Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila will partner with a pair of local artists to be the first to use the newly fermented Indigo Vat to engage 900 people to create three 60-foot banners, which will be on display during celebrations to commemorate the anniversary of the burning of the Cuyahoga River.
Global PechaKucha Night: PechaKucha is a presentation of 20 slides timed to 20 seconds of speaking time per slide. This gives each presenter exactly 6 minutes, 40 seconds to wow the audience and convey their message on June 20 at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica.
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