Akron Soul Train announces 2018-19 fellows; nearly doubles number of artists supported

By Marissa Nichol

After supporting a total of seven local artists since its inception in 2016, the Akron Soul Train announced its latest class of fellows would nearly double that figure.

Thirteen emerging and established artists will serve as Akron Soul Train fellows from September 2018 to August 2019, including the program’s first artist of color, first non-Ohioan and first two musicians, says Natalie Grieshammer, Akron Soul Train arts and programming manager.

The Akron Soul Train fellowship selection committee reviewed 70 applications. Each of the 13 selected will lead a community program during their fellowship as well as present a final exhibition or performance in Akron to share the artwork they created.

“Akron Soul Train is thrilled to be supporting so many new artists this fellowship round. Expanding the number of artists we support allows us to not only validate the role of excellent local and regional artists, but helps enrich the greater Akron arts landscape,” Grieshammer says. “Since each fellow will be creating and leading a community program, Akron area residents will have opportunities to engage with each artists’ unique creative perspective in ways that they may not usually get to.”

Listed below is the latest class of Akron Soul Train fellowship recipients:

Christi Birchfield, of Cleveland, who uses the inspiration of life’s fleeting nature to form sculptures that use both intentional application and chance operations, often through printed means.

Diane Britt, of Birmingham, whose work reflects both her personal narrative and a larger political and humanistic perspective. She employs a wide range of media – pieces of paper and book art, sculptures, installation and drawing – and uses unusual materials, methods and ways to use language.

Elizabeth Dallas, of Akron, a printmaker, zinester and storyteller who explores the intersection of the personal and political as well as the idea that change can be made by sharing stories. She is currently attending The University of Akron to pursue a master’s degree in education while practicing work in comics, zines and embroidery.

Maggie Duff, of Akron, who combines traditional art materials with found materials and industrial paints to mimic the plant life found in city settings, human struggles and her urban surroundings in Akron. After graduating with her BFA from the University of Akron, Duff co-founded Hive Mind, a local DIY venue and gallery.

Christa Ebert, of Cleveland, is a musician widely known as Uno Lady. She blends elements of jazz, doo wop, ’60s pop and folk through her voice, electronic pedals and unconventional instruments.

Joshua Eiskamp, of Seven Hills, whose intentionally meditative and immersive abstract paintings allow viewers to linger in their subtly rich and layered surfaces. The ongoing series of paintings focus on vertical lines suspended from a horizontal bar creating spatial interplay.

Charisse Harris, of Columbus, who explores the complexities of soul food in black culture through forming autobiographical miniature sculptures. The Akron native often uses mixed media artwork to express issues of identity, faith and female representation.

Alysia Klein, of Kent, a mixed-media artist whose work is heavily driven by issues of privilege and poverty as she approaches inequality and oppression in a sincere manner. She is currently an MFA candidate in painting and drawing at Kent State University.

Micah Kraus, of Akron, whose art is centered around finding potential in collapsing structures. A printmaker, photographer, designer and arts educator, Kraus’ art is heavily influenced by place and process to show the value in resilience, sincerity and earnestness in unexpected places with hidden beauty.

Benjamin Patrick, of Akron, is best known as a guitar player and vocalist for The Dreamers. He is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and has been part of the Akron music scene for 10 years. He uses a variety of inspirations and sounds to construct an experience for all to relate to, making his music both familiar and unique.

Arabella Proffer, of Lakewood, combines her interests in botany, microbiology, monsters, space, disease and the evolution of cells in her surreal landscape paintings.

David Sapp, of Berlin Heights, is a visual artist and writer who uses mark-making to embody natural and responsive expressions. Sapp was awarded the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award grant for poetry in 2018.

Zelda Zinn, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is a lifelong photographer who has always been amused by making photos that transcend their modest subjects. She has recently focused on the recycle bin by using packing bubbles, security envelopes, shredded paper, magazines and plastic shopping bags.

Past Akron Soul Train fellows include Michelle Droll, Gabe Gott, Eva Kwong, Jenniffer Omaitz, John Sokol, Stephen Tomasko and Danny Volk. CV

Lead image: “Astronomer” by Arabella Proffer