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VIEW By Alyssa Schmitt

T

he women in the center of many of fine art photographer Yvonne Palkowitsh’s works are inspired by stories she’s heard from real women in her life.

The idea for a scene might stem from a story her grandmother told or it might come from a conversation with friends, but each speaks to a level of truth and reveals a narrative that might otherwise go unnoticed. Some of the women show a vulnerability while others turn away from the viewer. Many of them are African American, like Palkowitsh, and often find themselves alone in the photo. Through each piece, she forces the viewer to see them and their stories. Acknowledgment and recognition – or the lack thereof – are overarching themes in the upcoming “seenUNseen” exhibition at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, where Palkowitsh’s work will be on view. The show will feature pieces from Northeast Ohio-based African American artists the public might not often see alongside nationally known artists of historic importance, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Charles White and Jacob Lawrence, whose work appears courtesy of the Atlanta-based Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art. Among the local artists featured will be Dexter Davis, Darius Steward, Tony Williams, Michelangelo Lovelace and Amber N. Ford. Momentum for and involvement in “seenUNseen” grew so large that, in addition to filling the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s gallery, it will overtake available space in The Sculpture Center next door. The show will run from Sept. 20 to Nov. 16.

SEEING LOCAL ARTISTS “seenUNseen” began to take shape when Artists Archives of the Western Reserve executive director Mindy Tousley was approached about exhibiting part of the 300-piece Davis Collection. For the past 35 years, Kerry Davis and his family have amassed a collection of paintings, works on paper

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and sculptures on a modest budget from emerging and established African American artists. When Tousley explains the Archives’ mission of supporting regional artists to Davis, it resonated. “I suggested to him that because bringing in a collection like this is not really part of our mission statement ... that perhaps we could do a show of regional artists and put the work in with his collection all in one exhibition, which would help the regional artists because their work is going to be seen and going to be produced in a catalog and advertised alongside this other work,” Tousley says. Some of the local artists may have found it difficult to get their work into regional galleries or exhibitions, or some work in a medium that might not garner as much attention in the art world. Others, like Palkowitsh, who lives in Dover, Ohio, highlight concepts that might be overlooked. Yet each is working to have themselves, their work and their community be seen. “(The show) is going to point out that good art is being done all over from different kinds of people throughout history, and probably the conventional institutions have ignored a lot of it – the really big museums,” Tousley says. “I mean, we know they’ve ignored women, for the most part. They’ve ignored African American artists, too, for the most part, and African American women artists and maybe artists who are working in more traditional craft mediums, like some of the textile artists and quilters. I think it’s going to bring some of that out to the public eye.” Palkowitsh hasn’t personally faced challenges in showing her work but she knows others who have and recognizes the importance of providing an exhibition for those artists. Two pieces from Palkowitsh will be in the exhibition. “It’s really important that exhibitions like this are held because it really gives an opportunity to artists who are struggling to get their works into

“It’s really important that exhibitions like this are held because it really gives an opportunity to artists who are struggling to get their works into places – into museums, into galleries – to be represented, to be seen. It’s really, really important to have exhibitions like this, and collectors like Kerry (Davis), who see the significance of collecting these stories and celebrating artists of color and getting the word out there.” – Yvonne Palkowitsh, fine art photographer

Opposite page: “Guided” by Yvonne Palkowitsh, altered photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

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