The Artwork Around Campus: Your Guide to Art in Non-Art Spaces

We walk past it every day, but how often do we really take the spaces around us in? 

From the Law Building to Berkman Hall, Cleveland State University has a surprising amount of artwork in spaces not typically associated with art. 

So, I recently took a scenic walk through campus, taking photos and documenting some of them for you. 

I’ll start with the newest installation on campus. You’ll notice the second story of Berkman Hall looking a bit fancier than you remember it from last semester. This is due to the large work titled, “Nebulae,” by Danté Rodriguez that was installed just this year. 

Photo Credit: Trinity Stevens

In the description located next to the work, Rodriquez describes the inspiration for the piece. Noting the similarity between murmuration, or a flock of birds, with that of people and our patterns, specifically in the college setting. The description states, “This installation is the artist’s personal reflection on the exchange of ideas and energy that activates and brings a college campus to life.”

Moving along, one will find that the Law School and Urban Affairs Building hold a particular wealth of art decoré. 

Starting with the Law School, in the atrium area below the law library on the ground level, you’ll see the familiar giant guitar along with some other abstract pieces (pictured above). If you continue further back towards the main staircase you will also find some Cleveland themed works, like the ones pictured below.

Continuing on the next level of the Law School, one will find plenty more, including some old photographs of Cleveland- like the ones pictured below.

Photo Credit: Trinity Stevens

Another work that stood out to me in this building is pictured below, by Kristen Bowen.The title of this piece is “I Have a Dream,” meant to correspond with the speech by Martin Luther King Jr. An excerpt of the speech is also posted with the work- how do you as a viewer connect the two?

Photo Credit: Trinty Stevens

When you first enter into the Urban Affairs building via the inner link, you’ll find this unique piece by Hector Vega (pictured below) on your right hand side. The geometric arrangement of this piece is very eye-catching. Looking at the posted description of this piece, you will find out the title is The Art of Diversity- where in the artistic style of the piece the artist aims to capture his cultural heritage.

Photo Credit: Trinity Stevens

Continuing further into the building you’ll see some more thought provoking works, such as the ones pictured below.

Despite being installed in 2018, I really feel this piece by Darius Steward speaks to me since the time of COVID. Perhaps it is more relevant now than at the time of its creation? It is a reminder to me every time I walk past all that extends past us that we cannot see. It puts an innocent sneeze in a whole new light.

This next work is rather a series of pieces, titled “Her Stories,” by Baila Litton, created from 2004-2006. Through these close up portraits, each face seems to tell a story. The description of Litton’s work reads, “Like a mask, these pieces both inform and conceal the subject from viewers.”

Lastly, it seems the University kept our city in mind when it came to its interior design. There are many pieces which subject matter incorporated Cleveland, some that I mentioned and even more. The last one I will make note of is in the main lobby of the Urban Affairs building. These works are raised and appear more three dimensional than your average artwork, posing us with a unique view of our skyline.

Photo Credit: Trinity Stevens

What can you see that’s not mentioned here? 

Next time you’re walking through the halls, slow down and take a look at what’s hidden in plain sight!

Author: Trinity Stevens

Trinity Stevens is a current student at Cleveland State University majoring in Dance in Community, minoring in Theatre Studies, and pursuing a certificate in Arts Management & Community Development.

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