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Sara Bicknell

Type of Work: Mixed Media

Sara Bicknell is an artist hailing from the swamps of Florida, and is currently based in Cleveland, OH. Although she works primarily in illustration, she occasionally dabbles in other forms of visual communication such as animation and design, and is a sucker for a good story.  Often employing whimsical and quirky characters, she hopes to illuminate thoughts that sometimes we’re afraid or embarrassed to share, and bring joy and relief into a world that sometimes get a little dark. Some of the things she draws inspiration from include overheard snippets of conversations, awkward interactions and feelings of unease, that tiny feeling you get in a large crowd, the stories behind objects we chose to keep or discard, people coming together for a common goal, and all the other nuances of being human.

 

In this piece, families begin a journey in an environment that appears impossible to navigate; however, over time they are able to move through it by changing their perspective, redirecting their expectations to find alternative routes, and with the help, acceptance, and support of others. Although some aspects of our identity are stable, much of it remains fluid, and is shaped by the experience the people we surround ourselves with. The journey taken by these families shapes their identity in ways that they could have not have conceived, and for many, it makes them more accepting, empathic, and adaptable. Andrew Solomon recalls how a Buddhist scholar explained that “nirvana occurs when you not only look forward to rapture, but also gaze back into the time of anguish and find in them seeds of your joy. This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.

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Leigh Bongiorno

Type of Work: Mixed Media

Leigh Bongiorno was born in 1987, outside of Cleveland, Ohio. In 2005, Leigh understudied a local portrait artist and began drawing surrealistic portraits that received national recognition. In 2006, Leigh enrolled into the Columbus College of Art and Design.

Later, she transferred to The Cleveland Institute of Art after being inspired by the work of forensic artists who helped in a missing-person’s case. She earned her degree in Biomedical

Illustration in 2011. Leigh worked with several hospitals, museums, and research facilities, including the Cleveland Clinic.

After 2011, Leigh moved throughout the country gaining artistic inspiration from various individuals she met along the way. After hearing all the incredible stories of those she encountered Leigh decided to switch her work’s focus back to her roots of figurative oil painting.

With subjects ranging from the transgendered to the homeless, she hopes to raise awareness and understanding of those living in a marginalized society. Her work focuses on topics such as race, sex, gender, religion, and poverty. She hopes that her work will inspire others to see the beauty in those around them.

Leigh’s work has been displayed in galleries and museums around the country from New York to Los Angeles. She recently settled back in her hometown of Cleveland, where she plans to further expand her artistic and humanitarian endeavors in the local, national, and international community.

This illustration is for a chapter in the book, Far From the Tree , by Andrew Solomon. The book is a collection of hundreds of interviews from children with horizontal and vertical identities as well as from the parents who are raising them. The chapter depicted here was on the vertical identity of deafness. In this chapter there is a discussion of the challenges faced by the deaf community.
Most deaf individuals are born to hearing parents and attend mainstream school without any specialist in place. Because deafness is not considered a learning disability like dyslexia they are not given the same special assistance. Many parents think it's best to teach their deaf children lip reading in place of American Sign Language (ASL). Parents may think that lip reading is a better approach since everyone doesn't understand ASL. The problem with this is that the children only understand about 30% of what they're told through lip reading. This leads to lower test scores and grades despite their average intelligence level. Through special ASL schools deaf students are able to fully understand the lessons and materials and therefore receive a greater education. Through ASL, they can easily be taught to read and write just like the hearing community.
There's a debate on cochlear implants (a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound). Not all deaf individuals are candidates for cochlear implants. If their child is a candidate, parents have to decide whether or not to get the implant while their child is extremely young or wait until their child is old enough to decide for themselves. If one waits until their child is of an appropriate age to decide then it makes it harder for them to learn and understand the spoken word. It would be the difference of being raised bilingual versus learning a second language as an adult. The child may have to take off a couple years of school to learn the spoken language, but they will never be as fluent as if they learned speech from birth. At this point many deaf individuals choose to forgo the implant as they've already become accustomed to ASL, and deafness has become part of their identity. They can communicate, learn, read, and write and see no reason to fix what's not broken.
Sign language is not just a translation of English. It’s a language all on its own. It has its own grammar and its own regional accents. Sometimes different ethnic groups can vary in the way they sign certain words such as “boss” or “school”. There’s also variations in the speed of signing. As one would guess, a signer from New York may sign very quickly while a signer from Ohio is likely to be more calm and relaxed in the way they sign. Those who sign in the southern United States tend to touch their lower face and chest more when they sign. There are 130 different distinct sign languages worldwide. When someone learns a new sign language they will still carry their regional accents with them just like one would with any spoken language.
There are several causes to deafness. Some people are born deaf and others acquire it later on. Many individuals inherit their deafness while for others it’s a symptom of a larger disease. Other times one can become deaf due to an illness or trauma. Often deafness is caused from a lack of healthy stereocilia, the tiny hair-like structures inside one’s ear. Sound waves cause the stereocilia to move back and forth similar to the vibrations on a speaker or a drum. The stereocilia convert these movements into electrical signals that get sent to the brain where they are then translated to the words and sounds that we know and understand. In deaf individuals who lack these structures there is no movement and thus nothing to be translated. The slow deterioration of these tiny hairs is also what can lead to hearing loss in aging adults.
An ethics debate has been risen with the advancement of genetic screening to select for and against deafness in one’s possible child. Many deaf parents may wish to have deaf children while some hearing parents may see it as unethical to knowingly give birth to a child who lacks the ability to hear. Some countries who perform In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) have started banning the implantation of embryos with known genetic mutations, such as deafness, if there are other embryos without the mutation available. The widespread use of these technologies could lead to the disappearance of deaf individuals worldwide causing the genocide of the entire deaf community. This thought can be extremely troublesome to those who are deaf. It sends the message that they're an illness or a disease that must be cured or corrected, that they're not good enough, or that the world would be better off without deaf individuals. Deafness is not a mental disability, it is not a sign of lowered intelligence, or a lack of motivation. Deaf individuals are capable of doing anything that the hearing can except for hearing and some can still partially do that.
I wanted my artwork to show how the deaf community really sees themselves. They are strong and intelligent. They work hard everyday to overcome their obstacles. They can do anything they want to. I did a drawing of a seven year old child as he signed the words, “Deaf Strong.” I wanted to allow the viewer to see the world through deaf eyes if only for a second. When someone who doesn't speak ASL looks at my drawing they won't know what is being said. This is the everyday life of deaf individuals. Just like the viewer, the deaf community is intelligent and capable of anything regardless of what language they speak. I wanted to empower the deaf community while at the same time encourage an understanding for their culture. My goal as an artist has been to unite society by accepting our differences and respecting one another. Most of us are very similar at the core. We all just want to be loved and understood. Art allows me to show the beauty in everyone in a way that transcends language and culture.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.

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Joel Quiggle

Type of Work: Mixed Media

Joel Quiggle offers an eclectic array, ranging from splashes of whimsy to more solemn commentaries bathed in symbolism. His vision is to inspire and encourage others; his passion is for the voiceless; and his mission is to use his talents for the glory of God. Quiggle earned his BFA in drawing/painting from Penn State University in 2007 and has exhibited at both Glass Growers Gallery and Urraro Gallery in his hometown of Erie, PA, as well as Octagon Gallery in Westfield, NY. He enjoys experimenting with mediums and often draws inspiration from apocalyptic texts and nameless, historical figures.

When creating this piece, I really wanted to show the forward/upward movement that is possible when you strive for something better. You have to put fear and doubt aside, and in this case, run towards the goal. During the Great Migration, many hopeful African Americans left behind pain and heartache in the South only to find more of the same in the North and West. However, James Cleveland Owens, who came to be known as Jesse Owens, was a shining star in the darkness. This inspirational black man went on to win four gold medals during the Berlin 1936 Olympics, ultimately bruising the pride of Hitler and his precious Aryan people.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.

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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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Alex Anthes

Type of Work: Mixed Media

Alex Anthes is a mixed media artist from Cleveland, Ohio and a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. She graduated in 2011, earning a BFA in printmaking. Currently, she lives and works out of her studio in Brooklyn, New York where she produces a myriad of mixed media works both digitally and on paper. Her graphic images and portraits have a whimsical quality, with subtextual Jungian influence. She is particularly inspired by his writing surrounding the collective unconscious and thus seeks to create work in the archetypal vein, often incorporating geometrical elements and highlighting moments and events that exist in the periphery; marginalia. This ties strongly into socio-political events or people, and often marginalized populations, bodies, and ways of thinking or feeling. The periphery can also translate to mean, “junk;” the physically discarded waste that appears to no longer have a purpose. It is within this context, and with this “junk” material, that she creates her work.

The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman as it relates to my work is illustrated subtextually through color, diversity, composition and the words, “We Will Be” - an homage to Lubaina Himid's, We Will Be, from 1983.
When considering how to artistically represent a marginalized population, their history, and struggle, I knew that diversity was a key concept to emphasize. As it is expressed in Anisfield-Wolf Assignment,
“...Faderman takes pains to consider the multitude of social oppressions (sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, ableism) that worked together to galvanize the gay revolution as well as the many alliances (gay men, lesbians, transgender people, drag queens, feminists, urban and rural communities, the civil rights movement and Black Panthers in particular) that make up the revolution on its many fronts. The struggle cannot and should not be represented as only belonging to one isolated group of people.”
I understood this to mean that within the LGBTQ community and its allies, identity, and how it is defined, is vastly different from one individual's experience to the next. It is through the concept of diversity, as it relates to bodies, sexuality, and race, that I created a foundation for the work. It is from there that I decided two things: that I wanted to represent people of color, and that I wanted to use a lot of colors, literally, in order to bring to mind the rainbow flag, speaking specifically to the LGBTQ community.
The individuals in the image I created have color exploding out of their heads and on their faces and bodies. I did not want the individuals in the images to have any gender markers. We do not know if our central figure is a man, a woman, or neither, for example (though of course, some inferences can be made). The individual on the left wearing what appears to by a military helmet, is a nod to those in the LGBTQ community who serve in the military, or continue to fight to serve despite discriminating laws in place.
Another key factor in the image's composition are the figures' stances and the words across their bodies. Their stance is one of togetherness, and therefore strength and bond. The words, We Will Be is an homage to the artist Lubaina Himid's, We Will Be, from 1983. In that piece, she writes across the skirt of a wooden cut-out figure. One of the main features on the skirt is a handwritten message stating, ‘We will be who we want where we want with whom we want in the way that we want when we want and the time is now and the place is here + there…’ Her words can be interpreted to refer to the resistance that speaks to the black bodies that have to struggle to find space in a world that rejects them. I found that this particularly aligned with the gay revolution as a theme of resistance and the battle to exist in this world.
This exhibit is part of a temporary on-board installation.