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Dakarai Akil

Type of Work: Mixed Media

Cleveland, OH native collage artist, muralist and designer originally from Garfield Heights, OH. Attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh studying Fashion & Retail management. I started making collage art back in 2013 when I saw other collage artists on tumblr and realizing I had something I can do with all the magazines I had piled up in the corner of my room. Teaming up with friends in our art crew Lab Cabin Cleveland on painting murals around the city of Cleveland led me to start painting murals on my own. I have walls in Long Beach, CA, Pittsburgh, PA as well as my hometown Cleveland, OH. I got my start designing right out of high school when I launched a clothing brand called Lame Brotherhood. Fast forward to present day, that brand has transformed into my new company Thisbrandusa (This Brand Was Made In The Future) where I put my collage art on clothing, furniture and other miscellaneous useful items. I’ve now done art shows, exhibitions and public art projects in Los Angeles, CA, Pittsburgh, PA and Cleveland, OH showcasing all forms of art I dabble in.

Madlib, one of my favorite music producers, remixed a Gary Bartz song called “I’ve Known Rivers” that was inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. I chose this piece because that song puts my mind in a place where I feel myself moving through life as a traveler. I chose to use the images of pyramids because of the line “I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.” That stanza stood out to me because it speaks of so much power into the listener or viewer in this case. I felt the need to include multiple images of black children in this piece to represent youth moving through their journey in life along the many rivers of the world which could be a metaphor for the many beautiful sights you would see traveling across the world. The use of the maps are pretty self-explanatory regarding places you may have been in the world.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.

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Archan Nair

Type of Work: Mixed Media

Archan Nair is a self-taught visual artist, illustrator and digital artist, specializing in mixed media, illustration, and digital art based out of Berlin, Germany. His visual expressions are part of a journey which is really influenced by the mysteries of our existence and how every action, emotion, and our interconnectedness in a universal scale sets off a chain of reactions, which we experience from the micro to the macro scale. Formerly a fashion major and entrepreneur, Archan started painting in 2006 at the age of 24 and made the shift as an independent artist in 2007 with his cultural roots from India. Since then, he has embarked on an exhilarating and inspirational journey, collaborating with various companies and individuals such as: Nike, RedBull, Canon, Infiniti, Sony Netflix, Samsung, Electric Forest, and GQ, among many others. Archan has been featured in various publications and has achieved recognition from music artists like Kanye West along with collaborations with Chris Brown and Lindsay Lohan. Archan’s passion and love for the creative process and expressing himself has opened a whole new journey, where he is exploring the beautiful essence of life.

I have been pretty fascinated by migration and why and how people move due to their own will, circumstances or privilege. Inspired by this story, I would like to give it a more surreal feel.
I would like to create a surreal landscape with fascinating colors, and a human sculpture with multiple hands and legs in the center; a huge sculpture showcases power, awe, and immensity. The sculpture is huge with a few beings looking really small at a distance. The sculpture is surrounded by beautiful flowers and nature within a ring, while the small humanoids/humans are outside this area which is dry and rocky. The sculptures have beautiful strings attached which seems to be like poetry or music being played with birds flying. It looks like utopia to the beings, but they don't know if it’s a controlled setup to either lure them into this new region, or maybe it is utopia and they are fascinated to explore.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.

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April Bleakney

Type of Work: Mixed Media

April graduated from Kent State University in 2008 with a BFA in Fine Arts, Printmaking and a BA in History. After working in youth development in the nonprofit world after college, she officially launched her creative business, APE MADE, in 2011. She has worked as a self-employed artist since then, primarily as a screen printer but is versed in a variety of other media. She also loves photography and creating mixed media pieces. April believes in purpose-driven printmaking, and strives to engage the community through the arts. She has completed two international residencies this year, in both Chile and Scotland.

My piece was inspired directly by the rich descriptions of landscape and experience given in the first portion of Peter Ho Davies, The Fortunes (Gold). I found the recurrent theme of ‘seeing the elephant’ striking and have used an elephant as the central focus in my piece, comprising almost the whole of the window frame. To ‘see the elephant’ is the complicated realization that gaining something desired (to have ‘seen it all’, ’the mother lode') may come at a significant cost, to both personal identity and to the larger culture. This much anticipated and sought after ‘elephant’ may not glitter as gold in reality, often leaving the viewer disappointed or disenchanted. This is an overarching theme for the protagonist, Ah Ling, as he adjusts to life in America.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.
The elephant in my piece is visually ‘built’ so to speak with Davies’ imagery, much from the descriptions of the Chinese immigrants, himself and those who were building the railroads. I hope the piece honors the author’s story while also connecting to some of our current issues surrounding immigration in America. With recent raids on immigrant workers, detention camps, and talk of tent cities for housing the children of immigrants, the parallels I see between then and now are many.
Within the elephant and its surroundings is a plethora of imagery, all drawn from Davies’ writing. I’ve included visuals from the time: upper class American (flocked wallpaper, chandeliers, pocket watches), Chinese identities (queue, incense, kite patterns, wallpaper patterns), and working class Chinese-American experience (tent cities, rock walls, trains, men in hanging baskets, overcrowding). With these inclusions juxtaposed together, I hope to speak to the contradictory nature of America (’the elephant’ for many) - at once both that bigger than life myth which glitters, racing forward and at the same time, something much more complicated, difficult, and harsh. These contrasting layers built up will give texture and an interweaving nature to the piece - combining pattern, color, and a variety of mark making techniques.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.

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Rebecca Groynom

Type of Work: photography

Rebecca Groynom, writer and photographer, produces digital and film photography. She uses photography to document her world, creating images of fleeting moments. Whether a stranger’s glance or a serene moment in an urban or natural setting, she brings to the forefront the images that capture her attention. Groynom’s writing has been published in scientific journals and Northeast arts and culture outlets. She travels throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia documenting the people and places that shape her experiences. Her work has been showcased in solo gallery exhibitions in Cleveland, in addition to juried competitions throughout the US, including Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Portland.

Chapter 26: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Serve
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), passed February 28, 1994, and became official US Military Policy intended to prohibit discrimination of LGBT service members. The result was quite different. DADT instituted a requirement that people of homosexual orientation, no matter how decorated, still commit to keeping their lives a secret. The military still considered outed service members unfit to serve, a conflict to military culture, and unable to perform their duties alongside their heterosexual counterparts. Before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, service members did not have any true options to fight institutional discrimination surrounding sexual orientation.
My piece features a veteran who served during the Korean War between 1976 and 1979. As a gay service member prior to DADT, he recalls: It really wasn’t don’t ask, don’t tell back then. It was they will ask and you will lie.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.

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Naijal Hawkins

Type of Work: Mixed Media

I am a true fan of art. I love being an artist and the unlimited platform it presents. Colors, styles, concepts, being able to have an outlet, a freedom of expression, is a great and wonderful feeling. Art is life and life is art. I am a graduate Cleveland School of the Arts class of ‘97. I have been a Scholastics Art Award winner several times. I have various talents in art, including painting, drawing, mural painting, screen printing, stained glass, concept development, tattooing, body art and some graphic design skills using computer generated platforms. I have experience with using different materials and supplies including acrylic paint, charcoal, graphite, water color, technical pens and aerosol spray paint. I have worked on a variety of mediums from papers canvases brick walls and skin. I have an adaptive insight to create beautiful works of art. I perform well with others when collaborating on projects. I have also worked with children and teenagers in youth empowerment programs as a mentor and some tutoring.

Today, I am a professional tattooist for 10 years and a business owner for 5 years.

My concept art is based on Langston Hughes’ The Negro Speaks of Rivers. In my art, I wanted to show some ancestral images of Egyptian Pharaoh and pyramids representing the ancient world. The Nile and Euphrates River are also shown. Some highlights of the Emancipation Proclamation with President Lincoln and the Vicksburg Bridge representing the Mississippi River are depicted in the piece. In the background, a bright sunset in background represents the golden sunset over its muddy bosom. The hands in the water represents the soul growing deep like plants in the water. I wanted the chains breaking to show the quest for freedom. The young man sits on the edge of the riverbank looking over the water for a deep sense of understanding.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.