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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.

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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.