The human form is clearly a fundamental subject for representation in visual art. The face, in particular, is a wonderfully rich source for a multitude of forms and ideas for artistic expression. Three artists featured here utilize this vehicle to explore distinct and personal content. From precise photographic realism, to inventive, multi-layered woven forms, to contemporary takes on the ancient form of ceramics, these artists aptly represent the richness and diversity of approaches to art making in Northeast Ohio. Mark Keffer Class of 88'
untitled 40 x 30”, 2016
Amber N. Ford is an inspiring young northeast Ohio artist making thoughtful and resonant work. Her chosen medium of photography serves as a means of addressing personal and socio-political issues, while maintaining a sophisticated esthetic sensibility. She has created a number of different series that, as a whole, reflect a deep respect and celebration of human dignity.
One recent image, of a young woman in traditional Muslim attire is powerful in both its simplicity of visual form and the complexity of the work’s subject. The fact that the photograph is untitled actually strengthens it as a work of art. The viewer isn’t led to conclusions, but is rather allowed to question their reactions to the image and contemplate their levels of understanding regarding issues of a religious and cultural nature. The viewer can connect with empathy and shared humanity, or can be preoccupied with preconceived notions and the unknown.
In a particular body of work Ford features individuals who are looking to the United States in times of need or the desire for a better life. As she states:
America, known as the “land of opportunities,” is often a destination for those in need of a new home. Some need it more than others but not everyone has a choice. While immigrants are individuals who choose to live permanently in a foreign country, refugees are forced to leave their land to escape war and persecution.
In the exhibition, By Force & By Choice, I turn my lens to focus on immigrants and refugees. These photographic portraits let you see a glimpse of the individuals who live in urban areas of Cleveland. Barriers such as language can make integrating into the community difficult but not impossible. Thanks to dedicated organizations, individuals can receive vital education and job training that help them adjust to their new lives in the United States.
This work was created in the effort to educate my own ignorance on this very important topic. I began reaching out to local organizations and Cuyahoga County residents to retrieve more information and connect with immigrants and refugees who have moved to and been resettled in Cleveland, Ohio. These portraits are an ongoing response to the idea of identity. By using photography, I can partake in a collaborative engagement that allows me to interact with others.
Amber N. Ford received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2016. Her work has been shown in galleries such as The Cleveland Print Room, Zygote Press, Waterloo Arts, Heights Arts and Zaina Gallery, located in Cleveland, OH. She was selected as a 2016 Creative Fusion Local Artist and received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2017. www.ambernford.com
untitled 40 x 30”, 2016
Up the Stairs and to the Right from the By Force & By Choice series,
30 x 40”, 2017
Stalker wool and cotton, hand woven, 20 x 16”, 2013
The art of Deborah Silver is compelling in part due to a kind of duality that exists in the image making. There consistently seems to be at least two images appearing simultaneously, one atop another, vying in back-and-forth fashion for a presence. This contributes to a mysterious situation regarding the source and nature of the images. Questions arise surrounding the relationship between the various elements of the imagery. Without prior knowledge of the artist’s intentions, the work creates a peculiar and thoroughly enjoyable process of assessing the information being taken in, and connecting it to areas of the mind that hover at the fringe of clarity. A kind of emotional darkness is also felt at times, which is often offset by a wry sense of humor. The titles in particular lend an insight into the thinking of the artist and the balance between the austere and
There is a difference in the type of imagery displayed that adds greatly to the viewing experience. Some of the images are photographically-based and, hence, more clearly recognizable. Others seem more stylized and abstract. This is a distinctive approach that connects very successfully to the fragmentary nature of perception, memory, and experience.
The theme of duality defines my work as well as my life. … My art explores personal and cultural connections by uniting images of traditional tribal masks and totems with contemporary portraits. Traditional ethnic tribes were not isolated; their lives were shaped by the world of road and trade as much as by village life. My weavings examine how society is affected by the greater accessibility of diverse cultures, which are unavoidably reinterpreted through our own experience. … I use facial imagery to reveal how increased dialogue with other peoples redefines us as individuals. My weavings reflect the cross-cultural experience by reducing it to a personal, rather than societal viewpoint. These works observe other cultures through a reverse prism, taking disparate images from differing times and places, and merging them into a narrative whole, where both images lose parts of themselves in translation.
Deborah Silver is an alum of The Cleveland Institute of Art. She is an active member of The Cuyahoga Weavers Guild, Handweavers Guild of America, and Complex Weavers, among other organizations. In 2015, she received a Cleveland Jewish Arts and Culture Fellowship. This year, she won First Place and Complex Weavers Award, Complexity: Innovations in Weaving, Reno, Nevada. Silver has recently shown in two-person shows at ArtNEO, Cleveland, and the Cleveland West Art League Gallery. She was included in the 16th International Open at Woman Made Gallery,Chicago, Illinois, 2013. Other groups shows include Phoenix Gallery, New York City; Cleveland Foundation; Harris Stanton Gallery, Akron, Ohio; Praxis Fiber Workshop, Cleveland, Ohio; Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio; and Cleveland State University. When not busy at her loom, Deborah passes the time as a nuclear medicine technician. www.deborahsilverstudio.com
Someday I’ll Be On My Own wool and cotton, hand woven, 20 x 16”, 2015
Death Awaits wool and cotton, hand woven, 20 x 16”, 2014
Lady with a Hat wood-fired ceramics, 2016
As an artist and educator, Brinsley Tyrell has made important contributions to the art of our area for many years. Originally from England, he was a Kent State University sculpture professor from 1968 to 1996, serving as head of the department for most of that time. His creative output has spanned many directions and media, most frequently in sculpture. As he states:
Primarily I think of myself as a sculptor, working with clay, wax, plaster, or bronze; or carving wood or stone. However, I have created many large public commissions which led to using other materials.
One of his most remarkable series, Ohio Lands Forever, was made in two dimensions, in enameling. This series is filled with a great sense of freedom and invention, and contains wide-ranging emotional sensibilities. There is often an agitated, tumultuous quality, while at other times a calmer, more introspective state emerges. In either case, the esthetic richness of this work is emotionally moving and deeply engaging. These enameled landscapes were created using the large scale enamel kiln at Kent State University and generally measure three by four feet; very large for the medium. They were created from glass enamels fused onto steel and extend from a commission for Cleveland’s 117th Street RTA Station.
Tyrrell’s recent efforts have focused on figurative ceramics.These generally take the form of various vessels, but it appears that function is not the top priority. In at least one case, Upside-Down Cup with Shino Glaze, function has been thwarted entirely. Instead, we see throughout the many examples of this work, the human face and body depicted in a wide array of poses and expressions. In the talented hands and fertile mind of Tyrrell, we can feel the beauty, joy, pain, and mystery of being human. The richness and depth of these sculptures is powerfully convincing.
…I have been creating ceramics which I fire in a wood-fired kiln outside my studio. I began with very small cups, and these have developed into a series of pots and vases, often with images of people enjoying themselves. My art is about the materials and processes I am using, and oftentimes, the environment into which a commissioned work will be placed will also have a direct impact on its materials and aesthetics. I always strive to keep the work fresh and exciting. Usually I am inspired by nature. She is ever changing, sprouting up in new and marvelous ways. I want my work to capture some of that energy.
Brinsley Tyrrell was born in Godstone, England and graduated from the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts at the University of London(1964). His work can be seen in numerous public commissions including “Behind the BrainPlaza” on the KSU campus, and “The AkronFence” at the Oliver Ocasek Building, Akron,Ohio. In 2002 he, with wife Lilian Tyrrell, won a Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. In 2011, he received the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award for Visual Arts. www.artistbrinsleytyrrell.com
False Face Goblet wood-fired ceramics, 2017
Upside-Down Cup with Shino Glaze wood-fired ceramics