3 UA Colleagues Among Winners of Knight Arts Challenge Akron

This year’s challenge marks the fourth year of the Knight Foundation funding art projects throughout the city of Akron.


(Image via The University of Akron)

The Art Bomb Brigade works on a painting of hope on the side of a building in the Akron area.

By Megan Parker, Editor-in-Chief

Among the 16 winning ideas and projects from the 2019 Knight Arts Challenge Akron are three created by colleagues at The University of Akron.

Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at the Knight Foundation, said the projects and ideas in Akron went far beyond their expectations for inspiring the city through the arts.

“The arts tell a city’s story, of the people and places that shape its identity,” Rogers said. “It’s clear from these 16 winning projects that Akron has a lot to say.”

According to a
UA press release, the UA colleagues who will split a total of $592,000 with the other winners are Dr. Elisa Gargarella, Matthew Kolodziej and Robert Wesner.

Gargarella, the coordinator of the Art Education Program in the
Mary Schiller Myers School of Art and the director of the Art Bomb Brigade, said the program was made possible three years ago from the same challenge.

Now, with a second award from the Knight Foundation, Gargarella hopes to build additional apprenticeship opportunities and grow Akron’s cultural identity through the arts.

“A second award is so exciting for Art Bomb because it means that current students and alumni from the Myers School of Art will have extended opportunities to develop their creative leadership capacities,” Gargarella said.

Next, as a professor of painting and drawing in the school of art, Kolodziej created the “Synapse: Nature’s Solutions” project within UA’s
Synapse Art and Sciences Series.

This project is set to highlight different Akron locations and its history in invention through a series of exhibitions featuring artists and designers who focus on human challenges through learning from nature.

One such exhibit, planned to collaborate with the Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center, will appear in “Spring of 2021 at the Emily Davis Gallery at the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art,” Kologziej said.

Lastly, as director and co-founder of
Neos Dance Theatre, Wesner will be leading “Akron Ascending, and Identity in Dance” with others in the dance community for ongoing conversations between artists, dancers and space.

Neos Dance Theatre is headquartered within the
E.J. Thomas Performance Arts Hall.

Overall, Wesner is excited for the opportunity to work with several other dance artists in the Akron area.

“I’m hoping to learn more about who we are as a dance community by initiating an open creative process and share with Akron our findings, both in conversation and public performance.”

Ran by the
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, this year’s challenge marks its fourth year as a community-wide initiative to fund engaging and enriching art projects.