Local Creativity Refracted Through Collide’s PRISM Project
Bart Sullivan, 07-12-2019

Jodi Crossley's painting, "Shine," on display at Cuyahoga Falls Library as part of Collide's PRISM Project.
Bart Sullivan
Over the last year, downtown Cuyahoga Falls has grown as an art district, introducing new festivals, working out ideas for public art, and, most recently, hosting Collide Cuyahoga Falls’ PRISM Project. Providing local art to business on Front Street and Portage Trail, the PRISM Project is funded by the Akron Community Foundation’s On the Table Community Impact Awards grant, applied for by Collide board members Molly Hartong and Kathy Romito.

PRISM was inspired by Nikki Bartel’s painting, “Hues of a Community,” a copper-filled line drawing of families and communities and those things which we are proud to have, such as courage or the ability to break our chains. Considering the painting, the primary goal of the PRISM Project is to introduce the Cuyahoga Falls community to artwork from a group of diverse artists. “Art can be the experience that raises awareness about similarities and differences,” says Hartong. “The Prism Project is a statement of acceptance and appreciation for people of all backgrounds.”

Since July 1st, the art has been installed in 16 locations around the city, including HiHO Brewing Co. (where Collide held their official preview of the project in June), Clean Eatz, Craft Beer Bar, Celia’s Boutique, Jean+Lou, Harps and Thistles, The Kitchen on Front Street, REVERIE Boutique, Harvest Yoga Wellness Studio, Hope Soap, Burntwood Tavern, The Natatorium, outside Search Actions, Good Co. Salon, Cuyahoga Falls Library, and S&T Bank—each alongside information about its artist.

Several of the pieces included in the project stand out, including Kwame Gomez’s untitled three-dimensional painting that hangs at the Kitchen on Front Street. Gomez, a current Sophomore at the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art at the University of Akron, is inspired by the comic books her father drew when she was a child, with “narratives of the black experience, alongside superhero themes.” The canvas currently on display features a woman with red-stoned eyes that easily follow customers.

At Celia’s Boutique on Front Street, Todd Dieringer has painted an abstract brown portion of a texture-filled land map in “Olde World.” Dieringer has experimented with various styles of painting, including blurring the lines of camera and canvas. In the description of the piece, he explains that “there is beauty all around us,” which is seen especially in the details of the map, and the location could not be more appropriate.

“This is very important to our downtown, to our city as a whole, because there’s fun things to do, but we want that vibe. We want to be the cool spot,” Mayor Don Walters proclaimed at the PRISM Project preview on June 30th. “We want to be known as an art district where people can come and enjoy all that and be a part of the scene.”

The PRISM Project runs through July 31st. Those interested in seeking out these pieces are encouraged to take photos and post them on social media with #PrismProjectCF2019. “We put a 2019 there because we hope that there will be a #PrismProjectCF2020, 2021,” Collide’s co-founder Matt Weiss explained. “We’d like to keep this kind of thing happening in the community.”

For more information on Collide: Cuyahoga Falls and The PRISM Project, visit https://www.facebook.com/CollideCF.

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