Works curated by CSU alumnus showcases four Black visual artists, community in Cleveland
CLEVELAND, OHIO (January 18, 2022) – The Galleries at Cleveland State University will present the exhibition Blaque Cleveland, opening today, Tuesday, January 18 and closing Saturday, March 19.
Blaque Cleveland showcases three black artists who have lived in Cleveland and had their art influenced by the city and region. This show will highlight some of Cleveland’s strongest voices in the Black visual arts community, with each artist exploring their own idea of “Blackness” in their given medium.
Guest Curator Brendan Whitt is a two-time CSU alumnus (’ BA in Journalism and Promotional Communications ‘14; MA in English, ‘19) and a former CSU Galleries student employee. He has assembled these artists through personal friendship, admiration and recognition of talent.
Isaiah Williams delves into his studies of landscapes and the human form; Kiara Booker explores Black women through acrylics, and Dakarai Akil examines society and purgatory in collages. Commentary on police brutality, inner-city life and the metaphysical will be on display.
“I’m a Clevelander and a Viking through and through,” said Whitt (left), who grew up in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood and now calls Los Angeles home.
“The biggest success for Blaque Cleveland will be in growing visibility for these artists and my desire to inspire and show the youth of inner-city Cleveland that someone who looks, dresses and talks like you can accomplish anything. No one can diminish what you want to achieve.”
Blaque Cleveland is Whitt’s first exhibition under his OPAL Beatrice branding, through which he has released other multimedia and writing projects. The exhibition is a “long-anticipated homecoming” for him, as he introduces the four talented artists to a larger academic audience.
“Working at The Galleries in grad school with [former director] Robert Thurmer, I had always been creative and loved art—but I was the only one there who wasn’t an artist,” Whitt said. “I told him that it would be cool if they did an all-Black artist show. He said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ So, I jumped in and started figuring it out.”
“We really wanted to make this a celebration of Black accomplishment and how that affects Cleveland and its citizens,” said Kendall C. Christian, director of The Galleries at CSU. “Brendan and I felt an exhibition like this would be wonderful any time of year, but we strived to do it as a celebration and really punctuate this really important time of year with the exhibition.”
To that end, the exhibition and schedule of gallery talks for Blaque Cleveland coincide with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month and Women’s History Month,. The schedule of exhibition events is as follows:
Tuesday, January 18: Blaque Cleveland opens to the public.
Thursday, February 3: Opening reception with Whitt and featured artists (5 – 8 p.m.).
Thursday, February 17: Thursday Night Art Talk with Isiah Williams (5 - 6:30 p.m.).
Thursday, March 3: Thursday Night Art Talk with Kiara Booker (5 - 6:30 p.m.).
Thursday, March 17: Thursday Night Art Talk with guest curator Brendan Whitt (5 - 6:30 p.m.).
Saturday, March 19: Blaque Cleveland closes.
All events will be held at The Galleries at Cleveland State University, located at 1307 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland. Visit www.class.csuohio.edu/art-gallery/art-gallery for more information.
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About Cleveland State University
Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution that provides a dynamic setting for Engaged Learning. With nearly 16,000 students, ten colleges and schools and more than 175 academic programs, CSU was again chosen for 2021 as one of America’s best universities by U.S. News & World Report, including the #1 public university in Ohio for social mobility. Find more information at www.csuohio.edu.