top of page



Feb 2-May 26, 2024

BlackBrain, Diamond Heart, mural in process, 2024.

SCRD GRDN is a new project by BlackBrain and guest artists from Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center, Unidos por el Arte. Representing a metamorphosis from lone artist into collective creative force and guided by the mantra "go fast, go alone; go far, go together," BlackBrain Group transforms solitary endeavors into dynamic collaborations grounded in a shared passion for storytelling through art.

SCRD GRDN is an immersive painting installation about the resolute human spirit and its existential journey through oppression, justice, prosperity, and divine understanding. Fusing artistic styles and techniques, the series meditates on the interplay and influence between the inner self and the external forces that shape our existence. Each work includes symbolic, complex images floating within black voids, suggesting fertile seeds of existence that hold and balance tensions such as joy and melancholy, control and chaos, movement and stillness. Drawing inspiration from the awe and grandeur of Renaissance frescoes and monumental stained glass windows, the installation seeks to embody and express sacred meaning today.

Comprehensively, SCRD GRDN creates a visual sanctuary where the diverse voices and experiences of the artists–and also, importantly, audience members–converge, intermingle, and resonate. As the artists’ encourage, “Join us on this visual odyssey—a journey that surpasses the conventional, ushering in a new era of shared experiences and inner growth.”

SCRD GRDN is a project of moCa’s institutional and early career artist residency with the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center (JDBCAC) from January 2023-May 2024. Situated within the heart of Cleveland’s Brooklyn Centre neighborhood, JDBCAC is an organization committed to the transformational power of preserving, educating, and promoting Latino heritage through history, culture, and the arts. JDBCAC occupies and engages spaces on moCa’s first and third floors in relation to its mission and work, and co-designs programming with moCa aimed at nurturing the next generation of artistic voices, providing a platform for Cuyahoga County-based residency artists to present their creations in a group exhibition at moCa Cleveland last season. advance the work of Latino/a/x artists and artists of color and provide new professional development opportunities. In 2023, BlackBrain artist Ariel Vergez took on the role of mentor artist to a new generation of artist voices involved in the moCa/JDBCAC early career artist residency, providing a platform for Cuyahoga County-based residency artists to present their creations in the group exhibition ¡Juntos! last year. Vergez, with his experience and innovative spirit, guided these emerging artists, illustrating the reciprocal relationship between mentor and mentee.

Generous support provided by Margaret Cohen & Kevin Rahilly, The Cleveland Foundation, and the Callahan Foundation

Installation Images

BlackBrain, SCRD GRDN. Installation views at moCa Cleveland, 2024. Photos: Jacob Koestler

About the Artist


Ariel Vergez, aka BlackBrain, is a seasoned artist with a rich heritage and a passion for storytelling through art. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Florida, BlackBrain is the child of two immigrants who came to the United States in search of opportunity and met each other while working in the service industry. Growing up in a household where art was a daily presence, BlackBrain pursued his passion for art at the collegiate level, studying Industrial Design at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

With a background in product and graphic design, BlackBrain has worked with world-class brands and has a keen understanding of the importance of storytelling in design. He has fused that experience towards his first love art. This experience is evident in BlackBrain’s art series, which feature unique narratives, a cross-wiring of pop culture icons, and a vuja dé feeling of nostalgia.


BlackBrain layers allegory, pop culture, and history to create new and at times, bizarre stories that inflect on the ‘remembered.’

Over the past decade, BlackBrain has been featured in a plethora of shows and has created a range of concentration of subject matter. He has completed a slew of murals worldwide, many of them focused in Los Angeles and Miami, his previous homes. BlackBrain is particularly known for his ability to tell stories through his art, which is a reflection of his pursuit to expound parody and symbolism as key tools to his method of creating rich visual stories.

With a portfolio that spans across different mediums and styles, BlackBrain continues to push the boundaries of what art can be and challenge our perceptions of the world around us. His art is a dissection of ancient and pop cultural story telling. It work has a diversity that makes his art so unique and relate-able while maintaing mystery and depth.

bottom of page