Creative Fusion: A Barrier Transformed, Ananda Nahu & Sankofa Fine Arts, Cleveland Public Theatre
Since early September, Creative Fusion artist Ananda Nahu has been working on what will be the largest mural in the state of Ohio. The mural expands across a massive wall that supports the Shoreway, near the on-ramp at West 28 Street. This wall also serves as a barrier between the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Lakeview Terrace Estate and neighboring Ohio City and Hingetown. Since 1999, Cleveland Public Theatre –the organization hosting Nahu–has partnered with Lakeview Terrace Estate on Brick City Theatre, an intensive arts program for youth. The mural Ananda is creating will be a visible celebration of community and identity. This everyday surface will be transformed into a powerful landmark.
“That’s precision and technology. They’re out here at night. And you can tell it’s got a meaning to it,” says an onlooker when Ananda Nahu and I stand by his side to view her mural. The onlooker is referring to the projector Nahu uses to guide each paint stroke while working between the hours of 7 pm and 1 am. Ananda works on the mural five days per week with help from Lakeview Terrace residents and local Creative Fusion artists Gary Williams and Robin Robinson. Although the mural was about three weeks from completion as CAN went to press, its impact could already be felt.
The mural draws inspiration from youth who live in the community and participate in Cleveland Public Theatre’s Brick City Theatre program. Vibrant, bold colors with a mix of patterns energize the wall. Sections in red, white, and blue symbolize the United States. The design is also inspired by a traditional African pattern that is believed to ward off evil spirits to protect the community. The children featured in the mural are Brick City Theatre participants who live in the community, and Ananda can tell you something about each one. Two more children’s faces will be added before the mural is complete in November 2016.