No one can tell the story of our local artist communities better than the creators themselves. Learn more about the artists who have made greater Cleveland their home, and take your own lessons from their experiences.
Huda Al-Marashi is an Iraqi-American at work on a memoir that examines her dual-identity in the context of her marriage. Excerpts from this memoir are featured in the anthologies “Becoming,” “In Her Place,” and “Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.” Her poem, “TV Terror” is a part of a touring exhibit commemorating the Mutanabbi Street Bombing in Baghdad. She holds a B.A. from Santa Clara University and a M.Ed. from Framingham State College.
Howie Smith is a saxophonist and composer. He has worked with many diverse musicians, organizations and composers such as John Cage, The Cleveland Orchestra, Mark Dresser, “Iron Toys,” Mike Nock, Elvis Presley, Clark Terry, and the “Tone Road Ramblers.” He has also presented numerous concerts and workshops throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Australia. He has received two Fulbright grants, a Cleveland Arts Prize for Music in 1985, and has been the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council on seven different occasions.
Christine Borne is the editor-in-chief of “The Cleveland Review: A Journal of Rust Belt Literature and Culture,” [ http://clevelandreview.org/ ] which she co-founded with Katheryn Norris, Camilla Grigsby, and Wells Addington in 2010.
Lori Kella is a 1997 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art (BFA, Fine Arts, Photography) and a 2001 graduate of Cornell University (MFA, Fine Arts, Photography). Through photographing room-sized dioramas and models based on maps, photographs, and satellite images, Lori investigates the changing landscape and its photographic representation.
Baba Jubal, for over twenty years, has used his musical talents to build community and inspire learning in thousands of students and teachers in the United States and in Africa. Known as "Solar Drummer," James Baba Jubal has been a long-time proponent of renewable energy. He designed and constructed the African Solar Village Outreach Project traveling solar exhibit. The exhibit was displayed at the first NASA Science Week at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina as well as other sites throughout the country.
Brian Andrew Jasinski, a graphic designer and mixed-media artist, received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1999. As a designer with Epstein Design Partners, Brian designs for a broad range of organizations, including medical institutions, universities, business enterprises and nonprofit organizations.
Jonah Jacobs is a self-taught artist living in Lake county. He was born in Denmark but has lived in the United States for most of his life. He has a degree in philosophy from Antioch college and served four years in the Army (two and half of those years were spent in the 82nd Airborne division). He also writes short stories, poems, and is currently working on a novel. He has spent the last seven years refining his technique and experimenting with new styles of art.
Poet Gail Bellamy is currently the City of Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, a program of Heights Arts and Heights Writes. She is the author of two nonfiction books, Cleveland Food Memories (Gray & Co.) and Design Spirits (St. Martin’s Press), and the poetry chapbooks Victual Reality (Pudding House) and Traveler’s Salad (Pudding House).
Raymond Bobgan was recently selected by American Theatre as 1 of 25 artists shaping the future of American theatre. As Executive Artistic Director of Cleveland Public Theatre, Bobgan has directed several lauded productions, including Osama the Hero, The Other Shore and a radical interpretation of Our Town.
Mikaela Clark has been studying dance since the age of 10, when she first recognized her curiosity towards movement. After training in ballet and modern dance for nine years near her childhood home in Texas, she sought further education abroad and nationally, experiencing dance in many forms in the Solomon Islands, Australia and Cleveland.
Sarah Gridley is the author of two books of poetry: Weather Eye Open (University of California Press, 2005), and Green is the Orator (forthcoming from the University of California Press in 2010). Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, jubilat and New American Poetry.
Dianne McIntyre established her choreographic career in New York City for 30 years before returning to her native Cleveland in 2003. In modern dance, she has choreographed both for her own company Sounds in Motion, and numerous other companies nationwide, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dancing Wheels, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and American Dance Festival.
Ida Mercer is a member of the cello faculty, chairman of the String Department and cellist of the Almeda Trio at the Cleveland Music School Settlement. In addition, she is a cello instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Music / Case Western Reserve University. A founding member of the Cleveland Cello Society, she currently serves as its Program Chair.
Debra Nagy has been called “a baroque oboist of consummate taste and expressivity” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Nagy performs frequently with baroque ensembles and orchestras nationwide and has been heard at the international Early Music Festivals of Boston, Berkeley, Regensburg and Antwerp.
Charles Oberndorf is a native of Cleveland and the author of three novels and five short stories. He teaches English at University School, where he is the Chi Waggoner Chair in Middle School. Oberndorf has also worked with adult writers, both at Imagination 2 and facilitating CSU's Cleveland Public Workshop during five different semesters.
Kristin Ohlson is the author of the award-winning memoir Stalking the Divine and a coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Kabul Beauty School. A California-born, Cleveland-based writer, Ohlson has published articles and essays in the New York Times (magazine and newspaper), Salon.com, Smithsonian.com, Oprah and many others. She has also published short fiction in award-winning literary magazines such as West Branch and the Indiana Review.
As a performer, director, and playwright, Chris Seibert develops new plays, reinvented classics, solo works and original adaptations. In her many years of performing, she has appeared in a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional performance venues.
Robin VanLear is a sculptor and performance artist with her own company, Art Acts, which she founded in 1978. VanLear joined the Education Department of the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1989 and now serves as the organization’s Artistic Director of Community Arts.
Sarah Willis’ first novel, Some Things That Stay (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction 2000, was awarded The 2000 Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature and was adapted into a film.
After completing the Foundations program at the Pratt Institute, George Mauersberger received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing from Carnegie-Mellon University and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Painting from Ohio University. He has lived in Cleveland since 1984.