This past Thursday afternoon, I walked into the Cleveland State University Student Center, not expecting to find anything out of the ordinary, but instead happened upon a lovely surprise. Instantly, canvases of artwork caught my attention.
Curious. I made my way over to the few tables that were set up. At the first table, I went over to meet Tyler Jordan, an independent artist in the Cleveland area since 2018. Jordan says that art is his way of trying to make his mark on the world.
Working primarily in acrylic paint, though with some mixed media, Jordan takes commissions and enjoys painting what comes to mind. The piece below is an example of a scenario where Jordan used mixed media; he also mentioned that he likes to embellish pieces with metallic gold as you see in this piece.
Making my way over to the following table, I met artist, Ysian Hassel. Hassel isa self-taught artist who believes in using art, in its many forms, as a platform for representation. “Having something that people like her can relate to and a positive representation of that experience.” She acknowledges this expressly from a childhood perspective, referencing the new live-action Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” When Hassel was growing up, she said she didn’t see herself reflected like this. So she says that the casting of the new film feels more normal to her- something she has come to appreciate more now that she is older. Hassel says, “I don’t want my art to be exclusive. It is not just Black art for Black people- I hope that everyone can get something out of my work.” She aims to bring her perspective and experience as a Black female to increase representation in the art world as a whole.
Now taking a course in Nonprofit Entrepreneurship, Hassel is learning how to be resourceful and pitch and advertise her business better, centered around her artwork. The piece pictured on the right, Hassel created as a collaborative work with another artist for a show last May. The artists took a well-known work of art, “The Scream,” to get the viewer’s attention and then added their own twist to it. The top piece in the picture on the left was for a commission that Hassel did. And the piece below it is an excellent example of the cartoon style of her work, which is where she started.
Hassel, who had never shown her work at a college before, said she was grateful for the opportunity to share her art and found it to be an uplifting and inspiring experience to talk with the students.
I discovered that the event was conceptualized by Amia Peeler and run by Anthonie Jackson, a current business major at CSU. Jackson states that the event’s purpose was“to display art talent free of charge in order to gain more exposure for the arts.” Jackson also stated specifically wanting to highlight artwork by local Cleveland artists. Though they had some cancellations, he said they made it work and hopes this is just the start of more events like this to come.