After an enthusiastic reception from the community during Akron Art Mail’s inaugural year, this partnership with the Akron-Summit County Public Library will return in Fall 2021 with a new set of postcards from 14 Northeast Ohio artists and authors. This year’s program will also feature another chance for community members to submit a homemade postcard for display.
While the 2020 collection of artist-made postcards were largely reflective of the pandemic and social upheaval of the year, this new suite of postcards includes a variety of subjects ranging from nature and local landscapes to resiliency, family, and hope. The core of this project, however, remains strongly intact: each of these creators, in their own way, is seeking connection with the larger world around them.
These artist-made postcards and the blank postcards will be available in Fall 2021 at the Akron Art Museum, Akron-Summit County Public Library, and through partner organizations in Akron.
Neema Bal is a physical theatre artist who makes theatre that represents the stories of his community in a way that not only reflects and heals the traumas from the past, but also creates a space for reimagining a positive future. He is a former refugee from the Bhutanese-Nepali-American community who resettled in Akron in 2013 and became a citizen of the United States in 2019. Since 2017, Neema has worked as Managing Director of Gum-Dip Theatre which excites him as a method of creating multilingual plays for, with, and about marginalized communities. He has performed original theatre in nearly 40 different locations throughout Northeast Ohio.
Julie Drew is a novelist and Professor of English at The University of Akron in Ohio, where she teaches creative writing, film, and cultural studies. Her academic research and creative publications meet where popular culture, gender, and rhetoric intersect. Her fiction includes the novels Daughter of Providence and a YA trilogy, The Tesla Effect. She is currently wrestling with the plot of a new novel and hoping to emerge victorious. At this point, it could go either way.
As a playwright Les Hunter’s work contemplates the way that theatre can explore emerging problems of selfhood. Playscripts, Brooklyn Publishers, Smith Scripts, and Indie Theatre publish and license his plays. He is the Ohio Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild of America, and was the 2019/2020 Cleveland Public Theatre Premiere Fellow for playwriting. In 2020, Hunter was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for literature. Dr. Hunter is Associate Professor and Chair of English and Creative Writing at Baldwin Wallace University, where he received the 2019 Bechberger Award for Human Development.
Sharetta Latrice is a poet and founder of Hidden Tr3sures, an organization that focuses on maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit through creative expression. Sharetta writes with conviction, utilizes her voice to shed light on the injustices of society, and advocates for artists with disabilities, while using expressive arts as a means of coping creatively with a disability herself. Her mission is to spread the word that disabled does not mean denied, art heals, and creative coping is essential for all, while spotlighting the artists and voices who are differently abled but deserve an equal chance to be heard.
Milo enjoys teaching Social Studies at Akron Early College High School. His gallery exhibit “Mr. Fred and Mr. Greg,” a collection of written and illustrated responses to his father’s letters from prison, showed at Summit Artspace last summer. He is the author of 45, basic, a collection of poems and short stories, and Rebooting Social Studies, an academic book that aims to give his Social Studies curriculum a kick in the ass. Finally, he enjoys working on the board of Akron Promise, and he doesn’t enjoy people who feed on the vulnerable.
Michelle R. Smith
Michelle R. Smith is a poet, educator, facilitator, agitator, mother, daughter, sister, and outsider, born in Cleveland, currently living in Twinsburg, OH. She is currently the Programming Associate for Literary Cleveland, a staff creative writing teacher for Lake Erie Ink, and a literature instructor at the Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program. Her work has been published in poemmemoirstory; Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism; My Soul to His Spirit: Soulful Expressions from Black Daughters to Their Fathers; Guide to Kulchur Creative Journal; Kulchur Magazine; Howl, 2016! Poems, Rants, and Essays on the Election; The Normal School; and Gasconade Review.
Catherine Wing is the author of two collections of poetry, Enter Invisible and Gin & Bleach. Her poems have been published in such journals as Poetry, The Nation, and Tin House. She teaches at Kent State University and is currently serving as the Director of the NEOMFA, the nation’s only consortial program in Creative Writing.
Deci Belfry is a disabled, queer, penniless maven of the analog, slinging prints to make rent because chronic illness is the literal worst. Specialties include block printing, hand-lettering, ink drawing, and digital media. Their prints are sold using an alternative “sliding scale” or “pay-what-you-can” price model to unify their uncompromising beliefs that artists deserve to be paid fairly and that art should be accessible to all. More than anything, they value solidarity, good boundaries, and bats.
Charlotte Gintert is a photographer from Akron, Ohio who specializes in scenic and travel photography. With a background in archaeology and history, she is drawn to places of historical significance and cultural relevance. Whether these locations are in the guidebooks or not, down the street or across the ocean, she believes beauty and inspiration can be found anywhere. Her work has appeared in Indianapolis Monthly, The West Side Leader, Akron Life Magazine, and Experience Michigan Magazine. She is also a monthly contributor to The Devil Strip, creating photographs and co-writing the Vintage Structures column. Three of her pieces can be found in the Bounce Innovation Hub in downtown Akron.
Yuko Kimura was born in Oakland, California to Japanese parents and raised in Tokyo. She received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1994 and an MFA from the University of Michigan in 1997. Her etchings and monotypes are printed on antique, worm-eaten printed pages or papers that are made from kozo fiber. Her work is in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Clinic, Canton Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Morikami Museum. Yuko lives and works in Cleveland where she is an artist member at Zygote Press and Morgan Conservatory.
K M is a queer artist based in Kent, Ohio. She hopes to integrate her education in sociology with a passion for photography to share her perspective of our world, which she believes to be both a softer and harsher place than we may always see. Her goal is to amplify community voices as she becomes an active participant in working towards a better, shared world. Her most notable project, “Poets for Change,” aims to offer both truth and love in the form of photojournalism, just as it was written in the streets across the United States in June of 2020.
Claire Marks is an artist born and raised in Akron. Over the past few years, paper marbling has been her primary source of expression. This process involves dripping paints into a tray of water, manipulating them with skewers and combs, and transferring the resulting design onto paper. She transforms her colorful papers into hand-bound books, bookmarks, and magnets. Her work can be found at Heights Arts in Cleveland Heights and Don Drumm Gallery in Akron. Claire has enjoyed teaching art workshops for many of Akron’s local libraries, the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Continuing Education Program, and the Akron Art Museum.
Sylvia Sykes is a portrait artist in Akron, Ohio working under the trade name SylviaPaints. Ms. Sykes aims to bring the world healing through an elevated experience of human centered art specializing in custom portraiture in acrylic, oil or digital mediums and in the styles of realism or caricature. The human oriented goals within Sylvia’s art are heavily influenced by her educational background in Psychology and Sociology from The University of Akron. Ms. Sykes also attended Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts during her youth which continues to influence her art even into adulthood.
Weil has been writing with light ever since childhood. Never a vocation, rather, photographing is an extension of his way of seeing, experiencing, and interpreting. He has studied, written and taught about the medium. A PhD in photohistory gives him, as he puts it, “some kind of terminal credibility.”
All the postcards featuring written works were designed and hand-printed by April Bleakney.
April (Ape) graduated from Kent State University in 2008 with a BFA in Fine Arts, Printmaking and a BA in History. After working in youth development in the nonprofit sector after college, she officially launched her creative business, APE MADE, in 2011. The APE MADE brand is Cleveland-proud and specializes in eco-friendly hand screen printing, featuring original designs on quality clothing and handmade goods. April has worked as a self-employed artist since 2011, primarily as a screen printer, but is versed in a variety of other media. She believes in purpose-driven printmaking and strives to engage the community through the arts.