Emerging artists of Northeast Ohio

Sarah Esposito

Growing up with the natural wonders of Appalachia in her backyard, Sarah Esposito has long been drawn to the complex, ever-changing moments landscapes offer.

Through her painting and collage artwork, she depicts those moments she witnesses in nature that may only occur at singular time and spot on Earth. 

“While my work might change with different mediums or doing different things throughout my life, I do think that I will always have this tie to how I experience the landscape as a person who’s from Appalachia,” she tells Canvas during an interview in her art studio in an apartment she shares with her husband in Cleveland’s Shaker Square neighborhood. 

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Alyssa Lizzini

Stories of people and places in our city, overlapping across space and time, are at the heart of Alyssa Lizzini’s drawings.

Her layered ink pen drawings build off the interconnectedness of social and spatial worlds as she collects personal stories from all over Cleveland. Together, they reflect on the social fabric of the city and its communities, she tells Canvas. 

Raised by her grandparents in Old Brooklyn, they would drive Lizzini around the city to the places where they grew up. They would tell stories of relatives and people they knew in different parts of town. 

“It made me aware of how there are a million different stories that have happened, that are happening now and that will happen,” she says. “I’m interested in the simultaneousness of all of this and the overall complexity and how, as one person, we can never fully wrap our brains around everything that is happening in the world. I’m really interested in creating that complexity through the overlapping line drawings, and also recording stories from different people I meet along the way of discovering more things that are happening around me.”

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Nicole Malcolm

Nicole Malcolm creates art that’s deeply personal, intimate and aimed at seeking stronger connections to those close to her.

While the mediums in which she works have shifted over her college and post-college years – she’s recently gravitated to papermaking and mixed-media installations – it has always been self-reflective and connected to her current environment and place in life. 

“I think space and a sense of home has really consistently come out … and light and atmosphere,” Malcolm tells Canvas in her home studio in Stow, adding that her recent pieces have been about “the connections you make with people that aren’t exactly family.” 

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Nolan Meyer

Nolan Meyer specializes in what he calls “loud, digital collages – but painting,” taking a classical artistic approach to themes inspired by pop culture and digital media.

Growing up in Lancaster County, Pa., a couple high school teachers noticed Meyer’s artistic abilities and pushed him to pursue art, he recalls. He participated in the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Pre-College program and remembers quickly appreciating the not too big, not too small nature of Cleveland. 

“I just was like, ‘yeah, this is for me’ – that was a pretty big motivator,” he tells Canvas about deciding to go to CIA.

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Crystal Miller

Crystal Miller’s sparkling, bejeweled and large mixed-media creations – which can capture a viewer’s attention from across a gallery – are known for their polished details as much as their attention-grabbing brightness.

She’ll often start with a magazine fashion photo, from which she uses the Procreate digital illustration app to sketch what will become a painting that skillfully incorporates mixed-media details. Inspired by retro fashion, afrofuturism and drag, Miller typically chooses Black or brown models. 

“Kind of my whole premise of my work is to create a world for Black and brown people that they can feel safe in and can express themselves in,” she tells Canvas. “A lot of my work is centered around afrofuturism. When I recreate those images, I’m thinking about very eccentric hairstyles. I’m thinking about how can I include afrocentricity into this – that could be amplifying the jewelry that they wear, amplifying their nails.” 

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Who’s Next 2023 – dance

Who’s Next 2022

Who’s Next 2022 – theater

Who’s Next 2021

Who’s Next 2020

Who’s Next 2019

Who’s Next 2018