Global Artists at Home in Cleveland


Home is where the art is

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Chilean artist Mauricio Cristobal Cortes Fuentes specializes in printmaking and metalwork. During his Creative Fusion residency with Zygote Press, he met with local artists to discuss the tools and techniques they use. Top: Romanian artist Alexandru Patatics, hosted by Ingenuity Cleveland, brought his experience with video installation, mixed media and collaborative art performances.
Creative Fusion is the Cleveland Foundation’s community-engaged residency that brings international artists to our city, especially from cultures not currently well represented here. Each visiting artist is paired with a local host organization and embedded in the surrounding community. Artists work with Clevelanders in retirement communities, schools, spiritual centers, galleries, performance halls, and more.

Did You Know?

Since Creative Fusion started in 2010, more than 50 international artists have worked in-depth with more than 20,000 elementary, high school and college students in Cleveland.

Creative Fusion offers deep engagement at the artistic level that generates a rich and lasting impact on Greater Cleveland’s communities. In recent years, Creative Fusion welcomed incredible international artists from Armenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Chile, Iran, Taiwan, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Senegal, Egypt, Pakistan, and South Africa.

Artists represent a variety of art forms, including multimedia installations, print-making, sculpture, ballet, experimental dance, and photography. This year’s artists made an immediate impact not only for their host organizations but also for those in the community with whom they interacted. This element—the relationships formed within the community—is unique to Creative Fusion.

This year, organizations including the Cleveland Print Room, Ingenuity Cleveland, Inlet Dance Theatre, The Sculpture Center, Verb Ballets, Rainey Institute, Waterloo Arts, and Zygote Press exchanged artistic and cultural expression with their resident artists. In addition to focusing on individual work, artists conducted workshops and interviews, taught classes and enhanced Cleveland’s art scene.

Armenian artist Mkrtich Tonoyan, hosted by The Sculpture Center, created bronze sculptures with artists from Cleveland State University during his Creative Fusion residency.

Armenian artist Mkrtich Tonoyan, hosted by The Sculpture Center, created bronze sculptures with artists from Cleveland State University.

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Chilean artist Antonia Cruz was hosted by the Cleveland Print Room where she worked with local students on projects related to photography and storytelling.

Outside the Box

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Chilean fiction writer Beatriz Garcia-Huidobro at the Eliza Jennings Nursing Home.

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Verb Ballets performs for Eliza Jennings residents.

Chilean fiction writer Beatriz Garcia-Huidobro, was a Spring 2015 Creative Fusion artist hosted by Verb Ballets, a Cleveland dance company. In a true fusion of creative expression, Beatriz worked with high school and college students, and residents of local nursing homes, to capture stories from their dreams, adventures, and memories. Verb Ballets converted the stories into dance.

Beatriz said, “I believe this exchange and dialogue among artistic disciplines and cultures enrich the community and afford resident artists the occasion to create and to forge connections.”

One such connection occurred when Beatriz met Luis, a resident of the Eliza Jennings Nursing Home. Luis never left his room, and spoke only Spanish. “Luis was a lonely man,” Beatriz said. “His family was in Puerto Rico, his wife abandoned him when he became ill.” Through a series of interviews in their shared language, Beatriz was inspired to share his story which, at heart, was also a love story: “a man and woman deeply in love, very passionate and sensual, but eventually separated because they cannot understand or support difficult times.” Luis ventured outside his room for the first time to watch the performances. “He loved all of them,” Beatriz said.

Margaret Carlson, producing artistic director of Verb Ballets, said “working with a writer made us, as dancers, think outside the box. When you do that, that’s where the creativity begins.” For Carlson and her staff, Creative Fusion is a triple win: for the artist, the host organization, and the community. “We look at what we do differently, and the artists enjoy a tremendous freedom to work on their craft. As artists go back to their homes, we believe the word will spread that Cleveland and the Cleveland Foundation are building a creative society. The implications of that are being felt on a much broader scale.”

I remember the sea.

Every Friday we went to the sea. The beaches were long and sunny. I laid on the sand and hugged her. She threw her arms back and dozed. Then we got up and went into the water. We swam in the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean, across all the seas, spending hours in the lukewarm and refreshing water. We ran along the edge of the beach, her dress was moving with the wind. She swore 'I would always be with you'. And I believed her.

But when I told her the bad news, she just went away. Without a word. She just turned around and walked out of our house, which was since then so empty and alone and I saw the future as winter looming clouds.

Luis, a Spanish speaking male resident

Talk of the Town

“Creative Fusion is a hallmark program of the Cleveland Foundation—it reflects the many ways in which we support arts & culture for this community— supporting individual artists, bringing arts programs to the community, and investing in the arts & culture organizations that make our city so great.”

—Lillian Kuri, Program Director for Arts and Urban Design, Cleveland Foundation

Where would you like to see Creative Fusion artists working in our community?