October 17, 2007

University's Baker-Nord fellow taps Clevelanders' minds for thoughts about their city

Carl Pope's Bad Air Panorama

In "The Mind of Cleveland," an urban art project sponsored by Case and ClA that opens during the university's 2008 Humanities Week

What are your thoughts, wishes and desires for the city of Cleveland? If you could suggest a motto, what would it be? Now is your chance to speak out: Your thoughts are needed for The Mind of Cleveland, a billboard and letterpress poster project by Carl Pope, an Indianapolis-based photographer and installation artist. Pope has been commissioned by the Baker-Nord Center for Humanities at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) to create a public artwork that will be part of the humanities centers yearlong theme of "Cityscapes."

If you have thoughts that you would like to share with Pope, send an e-mail with your thoughts in 10 words or less to the project. Pope also has a Web site based on this project at http://www.themindofcleveland.com.

"Cleveland is currently undergoing dramatic social and economic changes," said Pope. "It seems a perfect time in which to pose these questions as the community redefines itself.

"I think Cleveland is at a critical moment in its history, and a wonderful thing that could happen is that people in Cleveland can take greater ownership from the grassroots level and create what they want to see happen in their neighborhoods, school district and in the city as a whole."

But he needs help in defining what Cleveland residents want. He will engage the community in a discussion about the city as he visits libraries, schools and community groups throughout the fall to solicit ideas. After he has tapped into those thoughts, Pope plans to have Cleveland children select ideas from those submissions that will be incorporated into the art project.

The ideas and sayings will become billboards on RTA buses and part of a poster installation that Pope will design for an exhibit at CIA that opens during Case Western Reserve's 2008 Humanities Week. The weeklong celebration, from March 23-30, will spotlight the humanities through lectures, films and events that focus on the theme of Cityscape. He also will print posters featuring individual quotes that visitors to the CIA exhibit can take away with them.

The Cityscape celebration highlights the breadth of the humanities and its offerings to the wider community. A gift from the Cleveland Foundation through Presidential Initiative Funds at Case Western Reserve has supported the center's themed events, which faculty and staff hope to continue through support from the wider community.

Pope, originally from Indianapolis, launched his artistic career as a photographer and installation artist, using his art as a tool for social change. Art has been a passion for Pope since he watched his mother document family history in pictures. He had his first 35mm camera as a teenager and was winning awards for his photography by the age of 18. His art has been strongly influenced by his high school photography teacher, Donna Hostetler, who pushed the message that art can advance change. He went on to receive his M.F.A. in photography from Indiana University.

His work is in such public collections as the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y.; the Indiana Historical Society; the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Mobile Museum of Art; and many others.

The Mind of Cleveland follows other poster/billboard projects undertaken in 2006: A Celebration of Blackness at the Mobile Museum of Art in Alabama and The Bad Air Smelled of Roses at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Conn. Before coming to Cleveland, he will open the show Words Fail Me at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

In The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, Pope continually asked himself the same question about what it means to be African American over and over again that eventually chartered a passport to revelation and insight. This project resulted in approximately 100 posters that reflected original thoughts as well as quotes from readings from Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Pope said he wants to try that same process with the Cleveland community to have them meditate on the questions to create a citywide dialogue to inspire the transformation in Cleveland.

During his visit, Pope will give a public talk about his works at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, November 29 in the Wolstein Research Building Auditorium, 2103 Cornell Road.

For further details about "Cityscape," visit the Baker-Nord Center Web site.

For more information, contact Susan Griffith, 216-368-1004.

Posted by: Marsha Bragg, October 17, 2007 11:40 AM | News Topics: Cleveland, Collaborations/Partnerships, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Community Outreach, HeadlinesMain, Lectures/Speakers, Provost Initiatives

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.