Artist Darius Steward to Unveil New Public Art in the Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden

Darius Steward, left, with staff of Toledo-based Graphite Design and Build studio.

What if we physically carried the emotional pain, stress, and discomfort that we hold inside? Would we be better at relieving and working through that pain if everyone could see how much it was weighing us down? Cleveland artist Darius Steward uses the baggage we carry to inspire his creative works.

His latest piece and first sculpture project, titled Baggage Claim, in Search of New Beginnings, will be on display in the Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden beginning in July. The sculptures will depict children carrying backpacks and holding flashlights. According to Steward, “This represents my children guiding me in my quest to remove the backpack of negative emotion and to be better, lighter, and more focused on change.”

This project marks a new beginning for Steward. After a yearlong hiatus from the local art scene, Baggage Claim will kick off the next phase of Steward’s career. “Sculpture has been on my mind for a while but there wasn’t a chance to execute it,” said Steward. “See Also is providing the opportunity for me to turn my vision into three-dimensional public art, learn new things, and expand my creative practice.”

The installation will include child-sized sculptures on eighteen-inch risers placed throughout the garden. The sculptures will be fabricated by Toledo-based Graphite Design and Build and are designed in the likenesses of Steward’s own children.

Baggage Claim is the twelfth installment in the See Also public art series. Each summer, LAND studio partners with Cleveland Public Library to bring innovative and thought-provoking works of art to the garden through the program. The exhibition will be on display from July through the fall. In addition, as a complement to his downtown work, Steward will design the initial installation on a new art wall that will be added to the exterior of the library’s Harvard-Lee branch.

Steward is known for his figurative works on paper and for his public outreach through murals. He was born in East Cleveland, received a bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and obtained an MFA degree from the University of Delaware. His art has been displayed across the United States.

This project would not be possible without our partners. Thank you, Cleveland Public Library, for bringing See Also 2021 to life! Thanks also to Graphite Design and Build, for their creativity and innovation, and to the Char and Chuck Fowler Family, for continued funding of public art in downtown Cleveland.

Previous See Also installations:

2020-Democracy: Reflect and Refract, Rose DeSiano Galjanic (Brooklyn, NY)

2019-Inner Circles: Cyril Lancelin (Lyon, France)

2018-Common Energy: Lauren Herzak-Bauman (Cleveland)

2017-Dialogue: Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster (Buffalo, NY)

2016-#flockCLE: Cracking Art (Milan, Italy)

2015-Migration: Andréa Keys Connell (Richmond, VA)

2014-Drawing Lines: Ivan Juarez (Mexico City)

2013-The Reading Nest: Mark Reigelman (New York, NY)

2012-Figure/Ground: Scott Stibich (Cleveland)

2011-Power of the Pieces: Donald Black, Jr. (Cleveland)

2010-Watership Down: Jon Reed and Maier Yagod (Toronto, Ontario)