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Arts and Culture Public Officials Breakfast 2015


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Cleveland Area Artists Confront Socio Political Paradigms Head On

CPAC releases third of six groups of video interviews with 2016 Creative Workforce Fellows

October 19, 2016 (CLEVELAND, OH) – The third group of video interviews with 2016 Creative Workforce Fellows released today draws attention to many social issues in ways artists are uniquely positioned to confront. In today’s heated political environment, the professionals featured in the videos are offering perspective and inviting conversation. The topics they address include Puerto Rican migration, race relations and historical traumatic events, violence, the fleeting-nature of journalism, prison reform and reentry, women’s rights, the definitions of human value and where we place it, and power dynamics in government. The themes are often uncomfortable and generally avoided in social contexts. Using their talents, however, these artists break down these barriers and offer new pathways to understanding the complex and numerous variables within each of these issues.

The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture shares video interviews with Cleveland-area artists Kathy Buszkiewicz, Michael Garriga, Jakob Hochendoner, Holly Holsinger, Sarah Kabot, Irina Koukhanova, Darice Polo and Pandora Robertson. The program is funded by the generous support of Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.


With immigration a major topic in recent presidential debates, the issue of migration from Puerto Rico and the economic and social issues migrants face are often left out of the discussion given their US citizenship. That citizenship, however is limited, and came at great cost to the communities on the island. Darice Polo has transitioned her work from painting and drawing to film, in order to provide her perspective as a New York-native and Clevelander of Puerto Rican heritage. Also drawing attention and giving voices to those not so often heard is filmmaker, Jakob Hochendoner. His work documents the prison system, reentry and the men and women who experience it. Not only documenting the experiences, Hochendoner works with a program to train his protagonists in the filmmaking trade, giving them skills and, in some cases, paying jobs when they are released.

Shedding light on troublesome histories to invoke conversations about current inequalities is a theme that cuts across discipline. In a story far more close to home, theatre director, Pandora Robertson’s “Incendiaries” is set during the riots that took place in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood in 1966. The entire play takes place around a table to illustrate that “we don’t give enough room to the topic of racism and social justice in our country.” For audiences experiencing work in a much more individual setting, Fiction author, Michael Garriga uses his abilities to draw out “the particular, the empathy, the pathos of the moment” in his prose describing moments of racial violence.

As violence and scandal dominates headlines, Sarah Kabot reflects on the fleeting nature of national news stories. On view at Heights Arts through October 29, "NYT 2015" offers commentary on a year’s worth of headlines in the New York Times, and how swiftly catastrophic events become distant memory. In keeping with that theme, Holly Holsinger uses a contemporary journalist to help audiences draw parallels between past and present in “Ancestra.” She juxtaposes the fast-paced, high-stakes environment of the media with the 1853 Women’s Rights Convention held in Cleveland.

Irina Koukhanova draws upon her own roots as a Russian immigrant in her installations of fabricated and cast metal sculptures, 3D printed sculpture and two-dimensional imagery. Using historical narratives and legend, Koukhanova explores concepts of power dynamics and seduction. Power is often associated with wealth. Kathy Buszkiewicz is investigating where, how and in what we place value as a society. Rather than precious metals and stones, jewelry and garments are made of a material that were once a form of currency. Shredded dollar bills from the Federal Reserve Bank precisely arranged onto the surfaces of innately designed jewelry, provide a catalyst for discussion. Led by Buszkiewicz, participants in “Girls Make IT Better,” a program conceived by the Bank’s employees to introduce area high school students to STEM careers, can discuss what they consider valuable, and how they perceive their own sense of value. Notably, this component of the program may help further the movement many arts professionals advocate, adding arts to the STEM curriculum, rendering it STEAM.

CPAC will continue to release video interviews and collectible trading cards with all 40 Creative Workforce Fellows through December. Collect all 40 trading cards featuring your artists by attending their events and connecting with the artists. Learn more by following CPAC and CAC on Facebook and Twitter, or visiting the website,


About the Creative Workforce Fellowship

The Creative Workforce Fellowship is a program of CPAC that invests directly in Cuyahoga County artists. Funded disciplines include crafts, dance, design, literature, media, music, theatre and visual arts. Since 2009, 161 Cuyahoga County artists have received funding through the program. The Creative Workforce Fellowship is made possible by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. 

About Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC)

Community Partnership for Arts and Culture is a nonprofit organization in Cleveland, Ohio. CPAC serves and supports arts and culture professionals and community leaders who are working to create a brighter future for greater Cleveland. Through counsel, relationship building, research, programs and advocacy, CPAC works to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland’s arts and culture sector. CPAC envisions greater Cleveland’s diverse arts and culture sector as a leading partner in contributing to our community’s vitality and enlivening the human experience. For more information, visit

About Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC)

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s mission is to inspire and strengthen the community by investing in arts and culture. Cuyahoga County residents created Cuyahoga Arts & Culture in 2006 when they approved a tax on cigarettes to support arts and culture in our community. In 2015, the community affirmed its commitment to arts and culture by extending the tax through 2027 with Issue 8. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture has invested more than $140 million in more than 300 organizations to deliver on the promise made to support thousands of enriching arts and culture experiences in every corner of the county. In addition, CAC supported 161 Cuyahoga County artists through the Creative Workforce Fellowship since 2009. For more information, visit

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