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Downtown eclipse artwork gives artists full circle moments

Matthew Brown
The ‘River Eclipse’, a work by Danny Likar is on display on the side of Grazers in Downtown Kent on March 20, 2024. The work is meant to depict a view of the Cuyahoga River from above during the eclipse.

Before crossing or turning on various streets downtown, individuals may notice a brightly colored print of a planet or replica of a woven print with clouds surrounding the sun as the moon eclipses it.

Aided by the Simons Foundation, Main Street America and Main Street Kent, these groups were able to display total solar eclipse-inspired artworks by five artists including April Bleakney and Melissa English Campbell throughout downtown.

Campbell said she chose to submit her piece, “Woven printed fabric inspired by the eclipse photography of Rick Fienberg,” because of her past encounter with a partial eclipse.

Around the time of the partial eclipse, Campbell recently moved to the United States and only knew limited English. The word eclipse was not in her vocabulary and she was unsure about the excitement of the event, she said.

“All the neighbors came, we were all in the stories and I remembered it got very dark,” Campbell said. “It was like a party feeling and I thought, ‘Oh, America’s really fun.’”

In her piece, Campbell said she wanted to capture the nature of memory as well as how it comes in and out of focus because of her past memories.

“I had remembered that it was a complete eclipse,” Campbell said. “When I was doing the research, I learned that the one I had saw as a kid was only a partial eclipse.”

To depict this exploration of memory, she chose to use various textures such as yarn and cloth to represent the layering of memory, she said.

“Cloth is such a big part of our formative experience,” Campbell said. “We’re always around it or in it and connect to it, and I feel like it’s a good medium for exploring memory and exploring identity.”

While researching for images of total solar eclipse, Campbell came across Fienberg’s image which reminded her of the eclipse she witnessed. She said she contacted Fienberg and received approval to incorporate his image within her work.

“[The print] is a reproduction of his work with a lot of modifications,” she said. “I changed the shading on it so that I could get the patterning.”

Bleakney said she was eager to submit her piece, “Planetary,” as the opportunity felt similar to a full circle moment as she was returning to where her art career began.

“Planetary” is located at 257 N. Water St. near the former location of the North Water Street Gallery, located at 300 N. Water St., which was the first place Bleakney’s art was displayed aside from school related exhibitions, she said.

“I love that connection, and really coming full circle as I am in this much different phase of my artistic career now,” Bleakney said.

Bleakney’s piece was from a series of screen printed mono prints which means her prints are one of a kind, she said.

“With those, it’s really just… I was mixing colors in the screen,” Bleakney said. “Then creating the forms and shapes by how I was pulling the ink through the screen.”

To create the planet-like appearance, Bleakney said she used circular pulls, a method of pulling ink in circular motions to spread on it the medium. The variation of each pull causes the ink to blend together differently making each print unique.

“Every pull’s going to be a little different as the ink blends together and in this case, I was using the squeegee to create circular pulls,” she said.

The variation of the ink and pulls caused the print to have an astrological element to it reflecting the movement of the eclipse, she said.

“I think it conveys that movement and that astrological one body moving around in that circular or elliptical pattern,” Bleakney said.

Bleakney said she hoped her piece will resonate with people as they experience the eclipse set to occur on April 8.

“I hope if people are downtown for the eclipse that maybe it will be a reflective piece about this historic astrological event we’re about to have,” she said.

“Planetary,” “Woven printed fabric inspired by the eclipse photography of Rick Fienberg” and other eclipse artworks will remain on display downtown until June.

Adriana Gasiewski is a beat reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Adriana Gasiewski, Staff Reporter
Adriana is a sophomore majoring in journalism with minors in Italian and creative writing. Before becoming a staff reporter, she was a general assignment reporter last semester. She enjoys writing about current events and issues that Kent students face. Adriana is a second-year member of Her Campus, where she serves as Philanthropy and Community Events Coordinator, and she is a member of the editorial team. Contact her at [email protected].
Matthew Brown, Photo Editor
Matthew is a junior photography major. He has a passion for photography and traveling. Contact him at [email protected].

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