It's hard to believe it's been a year already since Praxis Fiber Workshop officially opened its doors in Collinwood's Waterloo Arts District. In its first year, Praxis has served as an anchor for Waterloo's west end, helping businesses entice visitors west of E. 156th St. – which was an ongoing struggle before Praxis. To celebrate their first year, Praxis is hosting a full day of activities from 1 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, May 28.
From 1 to 5 p.m., you can dye your own T-shirt (bring your own or buy one for $3). At 2 p.m., Maura Rogers & the Bellows will play live in the gallery, and Laura Yurko (CIA '17) will follow with a performance of her own at 4 p.m. From 7 to 9 p.m., the evening will conclude with an Underground Classical Launch Party with music from Oblivion Project.
"We wanted to create an exciting birthday environment for Praxis," says Executive Director and founder Jessica Pinsky. "We are inviting everyone to listen to music, dye T-shirts and eat cake! We have a special art performance by Laura Yurko as part of Creativity Works and we are launching a partnership with the new organization Underground Classical in the evening. This day will be a small sampling of everything Praxis does."
Located just west of E. 156th St. on Waterloo Rd. in Collinwood, Praxis' 7,000 sq. ft. facility includes exhibition space, a communal studio space with 30 floor looms (many donated by the Cleveland Institute of Art), a full dye lab and individual studios spaces.
Praxis was born out of necessity. When the Cleveland Institute of Art announced plans to close its George Gund Building (11141 East Blvd.) and unify its campus under one roof, some downsizing was inevitable. Despite an impressive expansion and extensive renovations to its Joseph McCulough Center for the Visual Arts (11610 Euclid Ave.), there simply was not as much space as with two buildings.
When CIA adjunct faculty Jessica Pinsky learned that the Fiber + Material Studies Department would be downsized and combined with CIA's Sculpture + Expanded Media Department, she felt compelled to do something. That "something" has blossomed into Praxis Fiber Workshop. Over the past year, Praxis has hosted formal exhibitions, students, community groups and many special events. Pinsky reflects on her first year, "The last year has been incredible. We have gained members and students, made lasting relationships in the community and exhibited a lot of amazing art."
Saturday is also the final day to view Praxis' current group exhibition, Landline: Works in Fiber from Coast to Coast. The artists selected for the exhibition each use process-based explorations of the body and/or identity in their work. The show includes Mike Andrews (Chicago), Christi Birchfield (Cleveland), Trey Gerhing (Kent), Jovencio de la Paz (Eugene, OR) and Erin M. Riley (Brooklyn).
"The mission of Praxis Fiber Workshop is to enhance the field of Fiber Art in the greater Cleveland area by giving local artists and community members access to fiber related equipment, classes and studio space," Pinsky explains. "The Gallery at Praxis Fiber Workshop exists to support and enhance the mission of our organization. One important aspect of this mission is to be a landing point for artists nationwide who are using fiber and making fiber-based art. Cleveland creates a perfect Midwestern meeting point for voices from both the East and West coasts."
Pinsky elaborates, "The current show, Landline: Works in Fiber from Coast to Coast represents artists currently working in fiber processes from 5 cities across the country. Beginning to create relationships out of state, like these, is a part of our mission at Praxis. We couldn't be more excited to continue life on Waterloo Road!"
Elsewhere in the city, SPACES is turning its attention toward the elephant in the room: this summer's Republican National Convention. The marquee arts event of the season is a video series by The Fixers, a local arts and advocacy organization. With the biggest event in recent city history looming, there's plenty to think about.
"SPACES is the only visual arts organization in the city that is focusing all of its major programs—running concurrent with the RNC—on the election cycle," states SPACES Executive Director Christina Vassallo. "We work with artists who offer a glimpse into the future by questioning what is happening right now. With that in mind, how could we possibly ignore the effect of 50,000 politically motivated visitors?"
Through seven short films, The Fixers are working together to offer an alternative to the official, limited narrative. Topics include:
- A day in the life of a wrap-around school site coordinator, Buckeye area (Tanese Horton)
- Young people dealing with neighborhood-level violence in Kinsman (Naudia Loftis)
- The impact of funding for military-grade equipment on civilian policing in Cleveland (RA Washington & Jacqueline Greene)
- How gentrification is effecting neighborhood social fabric, through the eyes of long-term residents of Ohio City (Friends from the Near West Side)
- Public transit access and the impact of transit funding decisions on riders in the Kinsman area (Marvetta Rutherford)
- Community-based nutrition workshops and local farm initiatives near Cedar/East 105th (Vel Scott)
- Initiatives addressing high infant mortality rates in Cleveland (Maria Miranda & Susan Greene)
The Fixers are led by local artist and author Kate Sopko, who encourages public dialogues through social experiments and projects that border between public art and social transformation. Sopko is joined by a team of filmmakers, including the production team of Angela Beallor and Elizabeth Press, both of whom live in Troy, NY. Beallor is a native of Cleveland, and her work explores history, memory and politics through photo and video. Additionally, local filmmakers and photographers Robert Banks, Chelsie Corso, Tom Laffay and Paul Sobota are helping to bring the project to life, with additional support from contributing musicians and designers.
"Kate Sopko, our R&D artist, will reveal the complexity of this city through a series of short films and public dialogues; each film will show a tour of Cleveland that locals would give RNC delegates if they had the chance," says Vassallo.
The Fixers remains on view through July 21.
Praxis Fiber Workshop15301 Waterloo Rd.
SPACES2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314
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