Activism, Accessibility Through Art by Amanda Koehn – Article in Canvas Cleveland Magazine about the exhibition W/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, and Disability at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve

I’m honored that I’ve been featured prominently in the article in the 2022 Fall Issue of Canvas Cleveland Magazine about the special exhibition W/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, and Disability beginning September 22, 2022 at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

An excerpt from the article reads:
Abstractly, his work reflects on experiences with chronic illness and physical pain. “I get to show it to the public, I get to express it, and I get to bring some joy and beauty into the world,” he says.

You can read the online version below.

Article begins on Page 14
Click on full screen icon on on bottom right to best view publication 

Curated by Megan Alves, marketing and program manager at AAWR and Mindy Tousley, executive director and chief curator of AAWR, this exhibition is very special because it features, including me, 9 amazing artists with either chronic illness or disability: Sarah Brown, Kristi Copez, Chappelle Letman Jr., MANDEM, Meg Matko, Arabella Proffer, Nate Puppets and Kate Snow.

The following is an excerpt from the AAWR about the exhibition:
This September, the Artists Archives is proud to present W/O Limits, an exhibition which exclusively features the work of artists experiencing chronic illness and/or disability. Curated by Megan Alves and Mindy Tousley, the remarkable show emphasizes accessibility and raises awareness while inspiring visitors with the art that people with chronic illnesses and disabilities create.

Screenshot of article featuring my rendering of the tactile 3d Printed Hash Symbol I created specially for the exhibition to be accessible to the visually impaired.
Advertisement for exhibition in the magazine.
Pictured is my work OCTOLUX I.

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Cleveland Public Library “See Also” Public Art Initiative – QUADRATALUX Art Wall

I was commissioned by the Cleveland Public Library in partnership with Land Studio to create a 10 x 30 foot art wall for the South Brooklyn neighborhood branch as part of CPL’s SEE ALSO public art initiative. My work QUADRATALUX will be up for one year.

About the Art:
An outgrowth from my architecture, the tenants I learned about making buildings; structure, composition and the grid, to name some, are relevant to making art as well and they are my guiding principles. In QUADRATALUX, I use geometry and color in an optically energetic composition to instill a feeling of kinetic motion and energy representing a joyous visual song and little piece of me that has been freed from pain.

About See Also:
See Also is a library term for “Look Here”. The series brings innovative and thought-provoking temporary works of art each summer to the Eastman Reading Garden at Cleveland Public Library’s main branch and murals to neighborhood library branches throughout the city.

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– Photo © Bob Perkoski,
– Photo © Bob Perkoski,
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ESCAPE HASH – Appropriating the symbol of our times.

The idea for this piece first began when I started creating artwork with the hash symbol. We all know this symbol from the earliest age when we start using the phone and where it resides in the lower left hand corner of the keypad. On the phone we refer to it as the pound sign. We also see this symbol when referencing a model number, case number etc. and is thus known in this context as the number sign. But now in our digital revolution, the symbol being used in the context of social media and platforms, the hash symbol, has been appropriated for use in hash tagging. In 2007, Chris Messina had the idea to start using hashtags on Twitter. They are now used by millions around the world.

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Paleoanthropologist Genevieve Von Petzinger studies the origins of graphic communications of early humans and in her TED Talk Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?, she explains the early human origins of symbols which include what we know today as the pound/number/hash symbols (see illustration above, top row third from the right).

Back to the artwork. After working in 2d with the hash symbol, I was asked if I wanted to make a 3d printed tactile sculpture for the visually impaired for the exhibition W/O Limits at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. What I created is a sculpture of the hash symbol comprised of 72 blocks each with a hash symbol carved into it in alternating negative and positive relief. To visualize it, I did multiple renders of the 3d model and I noticed the beauty of the variables at play; the different perspective angles it could be viewed from; the variation of lighting I could apply to get just the right shadows to reveal the forms. It occurred to me that I could capture the 3d form from these renders and turn it into a digital print. So from 3d, I’ve brought it into the realm of 2d as a bold print on acrylic, cut out on a router. Deeply cast shadows reveal the forms of the blocks while its perspective angle creates the optical illusion of it projecting off the wall.

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uv cured inkjet on cnc cut acrylic and composite aluminum
dimensions variable (58″ x 58″ overall), edition of 3
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Concept for a HASH Symbol Monument – A Symbol of Empowerment In The Age of Social Media

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I’ve been working in 3d design, reconnecting with my architecture and I designed this concept for a Hash Symbol monument. Designing this has been a healing experience for me. I’ve been in great pain. I had a serious episode of a slipped pelvis (a complication that happens to me periodically) and was laid up in bed for many days. I used this time to think about art and what I would do next when I could get up and sit again. Having designed a 3d printed sculpture of a hash symbol, with elements making it accessible for the visually impaired for an upcoming exhibition W/O Limits at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, I began to formulate in my mind this concept for a Hash symbol monument. As I was confined mostly to bed for a week, the details came into focus and when I was able to get back to the computer, I had everything I needed to get to work and create it in 3d with two 3d programs; MOI for the 3d modeling and BLENDER for the rendering. I would take the master cuboid Rhombohedron shape and blow it up to monumental scale. Within the volume of a rhombohedron, hash symbols intertwine on the front, back, sides and top.

I see it as a symbol of empowerment in our modern world of social media. It’s surrounded by 4 reflecting pools. They’re not really pools as they are only 2″ deep and would have spray fountains in them to be a cooling area to play in on super hot days; a kind of oasis in the time of climate change. The monument is elevated 18″ so that the pools are elevated. The edges at the perimeter have an infinity edge and the water would gently flow down into a channel and be pumped back, cycling the water. Gently sloping paths on axis with the openings of the hash symbols on four sides lead to a plaza where the monument rests. The plaza paving at the edge of the water is tactile for the visually impaired. The material is textured polished stainless steel. Its polished reflectivity would reflect the water and as the sun makes its arc during the day, it will continually transform as the light changes. A characteristic of the shape of the hash symbol is that it has two horizontal bars intersecting two slanted vertical bars. So that each of the sides and the top of the monument has slanted vertical bars, it is tilted 7 degrees in two directions which forms a rhombohedron.

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