Archives for the Month of January 2009 on Case Cares About Cleveland

Local Artist to Display Work during Case Inauguration, Black History Month

As part of its historic inauguration event on January 20, Case will be displaying the work of Old Brooklyn airbrush artist Andre Holt. His three-panel piece, entitled "Clouds of Witnesses," is a salute to Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama, and numerous other black historians.

The Inauguration Celebration and Lunch will be held in Thwing Ballroom from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The inauguration will be viewed on a large screen during the Presidential Swearing-in Ceremony at 12 noon.

Holt's 10-foot wide tribute was originally created for Rev. Otis Moss Jr., the senior pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland. He had heard Moss speak about “clouds of witnesses” and the greatness of those who live to serve others.

Holt was moved to create something memorable and started gathering photographs for his work. His colorful gold tones and detail on canvas -- amid airbrush images of Mother Theresa, Oprah Winfrey, Jessie Jackson, and others -- shows a heartfelt appreciation for activists and humanitarians that serve as advocates for the down and out. Holt himself is an activist and helped establish the Bessie Mae Hunger Fund for the homeless of Old Brooklyn.

"It is an honor for me to have Case display my art during the inauguration," Holt said. "It is especially an honor to have created works of art that are meaningful, that is a tribute to such humanitarians and freedom fighters as Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others."

Holt was uncertain whether Moss would ever see the multi-panel work before his retirement this past December. When he displayed it outside his Forever Grateful studio on Pearl Road last fall, it caught the attention of Case employee Maria Dimengo, who hopes to work with Holt during her Case Cares About Cleveland initiative. The project is part of a Case for Community grant she received to revitalize storefronts in the Old Brooklyn/Brooklyn Centre area.

Dimengo later met with MLK committee members and staff at the Harris Library who discovered that the triptych fit in perfectly with this year’s inaugural theme and Black History Month celebrations.

"I am thrilled at the enthusiasm at Case," Holt said. "It gave me a feeling that black history matters there, and that makes a difference to me."

After learning about Case and its MLK Week celebration, Holt was inspired to buy some more canvas. He hopes to complete another 48 x 60 tribute – this time, a portrait depicting the struggles of MLK and "The Dream."

After the inauguration on January 20, Holt is making plans to display his work at the Harris Library in the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences through February 13.

"History is finally being made with a black president," Holt added. "It has shown me how far we have come in this world -- that people should matter. People want change no matter who it comes from, black or white."

For more information on Andre Holt, please contact Maria Dimengo in Student Affairs, June Hund, or Kristen Kirchgesler in MSASS.