In March of this year, Waterloo Arts facilitated a mural in the Waterloo Arts District, which caused strong community reactions and was ultimately painted over by the building owner. The mural titled, No Convictions, was of a large “137” painted vertically down the side of a two-story building. The numbers were faceted in translucent blue and red to reference police lights, and surrounding the letters were painted bullet holes through shattered glass. It was a reference to the Cleveland police chase that ended with the fatal shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
As often happens with public art, the mural brought underlying community sentiments bubbling to the surface, one of which was race and the lack of inclusivity in our neighborhood. This became an opportunity to bring disparate voices to the table for a community conversation, which was skillfully moderated by Cleveland Mediation. It was a good start. This fall, programming at Waterloo Arts provides opportunities to continue this dialogue with the community.
For the past year, WA has been the incubator space for the new Cleveland theater company, Playwrights Local, whose focus is on supporting playwrights and producing locally written plays. In August and September, Playwrights Local will perform Objectively/Reasonable in the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts, a documentary play of monologues based on community interviews about the Tamir Rice shooting. Waterloo Arts will present two gallery exhibits opposite the play, which we hope will serve as a complement.
An artist’s life and the experiences they have had are threaded through their work and create a portrait of who they are. Opening on August 4, Threads will include the work of three African-American artists who weave traditional arts and symbols into their work in an exploration of personal identity. In very different ways these artists use African heritage to express their American experience. Helen Murrell’s exquisitely designed quilts use a thoughtful balance of symbols and pattern to express an emotion or a more layered story. Justin Woody creates photographic portraits that reference African masks, using a collage of materials inspired by the elder women in his family who have influenced his life. In the 1990’s, Martin Zeinway was dangerously close to being recruited as a child soldier in Liberia before his mother sent him to live with his Uncle, who was later granted asylum in the US. In his paintings, photographs and fashion designs, Zeinway incorporates traditional adinkra symbols from Ghana to explore his dual identity as African and American.
Then on September 2, Without Commercial Interruption presents social commentary on race in America through the deeply personal work of artists Donald Black Jr, Martinez E-B, and Amber N. Ford. These artists have plumbed the depths of their human experience to create artwork that necessarily reflects an aspect of race in our current society. Our culture is mirrored in their photography, painting, sculpture, video and prints, and whether damning social criticism or tender portraits, the arresting images in this show help us all grapple with this time of unrest we live in. They may express a familiar experience to one viewer or expose that same experience to another viewer, but, in any case, these sincere voices will add to our continuing conversation in Collinwood.
15605 Waterloo Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44110
In the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts:
Objectively/Reasonable: A Community Response to the Shooting of Tamir Rice, 11/22/14: by Playwrights Local, directed by Terrence Spivey, with conception and dramaturgy by David Todd. August 18 – September 4. Performances at 7:30 pm
Thursdays – Saturdays, and at 2:30 pm Sundays.
In the Gallery:
Threads: Three American Stories: Helen Murrell, Justin Woodie & Martin Zeinway
August 4 – August 28
Without Commercial Interruption: Donald Black, Jr, Amber N Ford, & EB Martinez:
September 2 – October 21
The Baron of Prospect Avenue: A Sneak Peek at John “Derf” Backderf’s New Graphic Novel: November 4 – November 25
Holiday and Ornament Sale: December 2 – 4
Save the Date for the annual DayGlo show, opening in January 2017!