Cleveland Institute of Art Hosts F1RST Symposium on Saturday

Do you remember your first experience doing what you love most in life? For artists, that first moment is a powerful and transformative experience. Put simply, there’s our life before art and our life after art, and a very definitive line between the two periods. Behind these revelations is an unsung hero – an educator, a mentor, another artist, friend or family member – who brought this new wonder into our reality.

This Saturday, the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is hosting F1RST, a two-part symposium designed to celebrate and support those who share art with others.

“CIA has been part of the Cleveland Community for 133 years and we take that role very seriously,” Explains CIA professor and Painting department chair Lane Cooper. “We, obviously, believe strongly that a viable community just isn’t possible without a vital creative community, and that creative community doesn’t happen without support on a lot of levels. You need galleries, collectors, patrons, art institutions, art teachers and community-based non-profits. If you don’t have young people growing up and engaged with art then you’re not going to have a community that’s receptive to creative people and creative work down the road, and without that, the energy and the vitality of the community as a whole is going to suffer.”

The morning session, Content in the Classroom, is exclusively for teachers, but the afternoon session, Why Art Matters to Students? To Cities?, featuring a keynote address by Executive Director of Dayton-based Muse Machine Mary Campbell Zopf and a panel discussion, is free and open to the public.

“At CIA, we’re constantly looking for ways to support the larger community and to plant the seeds of creative engagement,” adds Cooper. “We regularly develop projects that put our students and faculty into the community. This event is meant to acknowledge and support those who take on this work as THEIR WORK. They’re the unsung heroes of a successful creative community – It’s the High School Art Teachers and the underpaid and unpaid people working with the non-profits that really lay the foundation for a creative community to thrive.”
Beginning at 10 a.m., the morning’s session is designed to help educators develop new classroom content, discuss art and design careers with their students and network with one another and local arts organizations.

From 10 a.m. to noon, art educator Kristin Thompson-Smith (CIA, ’09) will discuss Careers in the Visual Creative Professions in the Ohio Bell Auditorium. Following this informative presentation, guests will choose one of three sessions: Art in the Field: Nature and Science Centers, History Museums with Joshua Maxwell (CIA, ’13), Art in the Studio – 2D Visual Art with CIA Painting instructors Tony Ingrisano and Mike Meier (CIA, ’10) and Art in the Studio – 3D Visual Art Erin Duhigg and Zak Smoker. Each session is presented by professionals working in the field and includes a classroom project demonstration.

Lunch will be provided from noon to 1 p.m.

The afternoon session, Why Art Matters to Students, to Cities, begins at 1 p.m. with introductory remarks by CIA’s Director of Continuing Education + Community Outreach Tom Berger and CIA’s Visiting Artists Coordinator Nikki Woods (CIA ’12). Participating speakers include APE MADE founder April Bleakney, Zygote Press’ Executive Director Liz Maugans and founder of Pretty Inner City Chris Webb.

Following each speaker, time will be allowed for questions from members of the audience. At 3 p.m., MOCA Cleveland’s Curator of Education Nicole Ledinek will discuss MOCA Cleveland’s role as an educational resource for the community.

Following a brief break for refreshments, Mary Cambell-Zopf, Executive Director of Dayton’s Muse Machine, will discuss the organization, as well as her previous role as deputy director of the Ohio Arts Council from 2006 to 2014, where she served for 25 years.

Just after 4 p.m., president and CEO of the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture Thomas B. Schorgl will moderate a panel discussion of leaders in the local art community. Joining Schorgl will be Executive Director of the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning Marsha Dobrzynski, president and CEO of The Music Settlement Charles D. Lawrence, local artist Donald Black and the aforementioned Liz Maugans of Zygote Press.

For more information, and to register for the morning session, click here. (

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