What is your favorite view in Summit County?
There are so many wonderful views in Summit County but my favorite view has always been in Akron at the top of Vernon Odom (previously known as Wooster Ave) at the top of the hill going towards East Ave. You will only appreciate it at night. It looks like every light is on in Downtown Akron. It is the most amazing and breathtaking view. The site makes you appreciate Akron and its beauty.
What is your earliest memory of arts, culture or your environment and how did it impact you?
Growing up, my mother was a hairdresser and a jack of many trades. She loved to braid hair. She would do so many different styles for the young and the old. Her clients would come to her with some styles that were out of magazines. She had such an amazing sense of humor, she would take a step back, giggle, and then confirm if that style was what they really wanted and my mom would create that look. Most of the time her clients would just sit in the chair and tell her to do whatever, ‘be creative’ they would say. And that is what she would do. No one ever left unhappy. They would have a slight headache because she would braid every strand of hair with no strands out of place. At that moment I knew that if you can think it, you can create it. I don’t believe in the saying ‘I can’t.’ Those were words I never heard growing up and now as a mother, I make sure my children always believe in themselves and know that if they can think it, they can create and/or achieve it.
What was your first introduction to arts and culture in Summit County?
I have always loved art and how people tell stories through their work. But I don’t think I really knew about the value of art and culture until I became the Liaison for the Akron Public Arts. Being newly introduced in June to Akron Public Arts and learning the importance of Art is overwhelming and exciting. As an outsider you look at art and say how nice it is and so on, but now I am learning the value and how it has the power to uplift and enhance our neighborhoods, our community, and our city.
The mission of the Akron Public Art program is dedicated to celebrating the cultural vitality of the people of Akron and to promote vibrancy throughout Akron through the integration of artwork into public places. This mission is what I stand by and you will see in the years coming the incredible work from our community. I am so delighted to be a part of this.
What arts organization do you wish people knew more about?
As I am still new to the arts and learning about all of the organizations and artists, I think it is important for all citizens of all ages to learn to be creative. It is important for our children to learn how to express themselves through art. Learn to tell stories, imagine what they will grow to be, change the story that someone has written for their future, know that they are beautiful, and that they are great. One thing that I will do is to not only educate myself but others in Akron and throughout Summit County on all the Akron artists and organizations.
How do arts in Summit County impact your life?
My daughter Layla, who is 6, loves to draw, create her own inventions and bake. Her favorite place to go is to the Akron Children’s Museum. She will stay until the doors locked if they would allow her. It lets her be her own person and opens her mind to more ways to be creative and more toys to ask for. Also, when my eldest daughter Leah was 3 (now 20), she began taking ballet, tap and jazz lessons until the age of 14. Ballet is such a beautiful form of art. The dancers are so graceful and elegant with beautiful colors and movements. Tap is one of my favorites. The clicking sound to the music makes you want to dance. Everyone should at least attend a children’s ballet recital. It will bring you much excitement and happiness.
I find joy during the holidays when Stan Hywet lights up Portage Path and Downtown Akron looks like wonderland. The tree at Lock 3 inspires me to be extra creative when decorating my own tree, but I’ll never be able to get as many lights as they have. The impact that art has for me in Akron is finding out what makes me happy and seeing the joy that it has on others.
What is a “can’t miss” Summit County experience?
You can’t miss the Rib Feast or the Italian Festival at Lock 3 in the summertime. I attend each day to try something new. The ribs are so tasty and the homemade cannolis are to die for. Most importantly, Juneteenth Festival is something that all should experience. Learning other cultures outside of your own is very important. If you can step outside of your box and learn about your fellow neighbor, it could change our world for the better. I pray that in 2021 we can all enjoy festivals again.
What is your favorite spot to shop locally? Why?
One of my favorite places to shop is at The Northside Marketplace. It is a one-stop shop. I can support my friends at Lepley & Co., get some healthy honey from the Akron Honey Company, and grab a delicious banana pudding from Essential Dipped Delights. Then I make my way to the Northside Speakeasy for a tall glass of ice water. 😳
Why do you feel exposure and participation in arts and culture are important for students?
Exposure and participation in arts and culture for our students is very important. It is a way for our youth to express themselves. To open up their imagination and believe that they can do anything their hearts desire. It is most important that our children learn arts and other cultures to be well-rounded citizens and teach our youth things they never thought they could experience. I think it’s important that artists and art organizations engage the children of Summit County to expose them to new opportunities and experiences.