Each in Their Own Voice: African American Artists in Cleveland, 1970-2005

Each in Their Own Voice: African American Artists in Cleveland, 1970-2005. This exhibit is a joint project of the Cleveland Artists Foundation and The Art Gallery at Cleveland State University, in collaboration with the CSU History Department. The exhibit opens January 23rd, 2009.

The first generations of African American artists who were active in the Cleveland region were showcased in the 1993 exhibition Yet Still We Rise: African American Artists in Cleveland 1930-1970. The exhibition documented the work of 30 artists, working in a range of disciplines, including painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, prints, and stained glass. The deep emotion of the work, responding to experiences of repression, pride, hope and faith, made the exhibition a critical and popular success. The exhibition was a joint project of the Cleveland Artists Foundation and Cleveland State University and was organized with broad participation by the Cleveland community.

At the inception of Yet Still We Rise, it was hoped that a second exhibition would follow that would document the careers of African American artists in more recent decades. Their lives and the development of their artwork differed in significant ways from earlier generations. As a group they had better access to formal art training and their work reached maturity within more ambitious regional and national contexts. The Cleveland Artists Foundation, again in partnership with CSU Art Gallery, is now organizing this second exhibition.

The History Department of Cleveland State University will be an additional, key partner, sharing their expertise in the collection and use of oral histories. Each artist in the exhibition will be interviewed by the curatorial staff, with technical and procedural support provided by faculty, staff, and graduate students from the History Department. By participating in these oral history interviews, each artist is empowered to tell the story of their lives and art from their own perspective, and in their own words. Audio excerpts from each interview will be displayed at the gallery during the exhibit, and transcribed selections will be included in the exhibition catalog. Full interviews will be digitally archived at Cleveland State University, and will be available for online streaming by students, teachers, and researchers, as well as the general public.

For more information, please visit the Exhibition Archive at ClevelandMemory.org. The full interviews can be found in the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection.