Joyce Morrow Jones, Amber N. Ford, and Erykah Townsend selected for moCa Cleveland’s new Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program

June 3, 2021
The program supports emerging and early-career artists working in Cuyahoga County.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) announces the first three artists selected for its new Artist-in-Residence program (moCa AIR). Developed to support and highlight the work of emerging or early-career artists in Cuyahoga County, moCa AIR allows the museum to work alongside artists through 5-month, long-form onsite engagements. 

Mixed media fiber and sculpture artist Joyce Morrow Jones will be the inaugural moCa AIR artist, launching her residency in July 2021. Photographer Amber N. Ford, whose work was recently presented in the three-venue exhibition Imagine Otherwise, will begin her time in residence in Winter 2022. Multimedia conceptual artist Erykah Townsend will start her residency in Summer 2022.

“moCa’s AIR is one of the biggest opportunities I have been given as a young artist. Hearing the news of being accepted has inspired me to push myself more in my art practice,” said AIR artist Erykah Townsend. “As a Cleveland native, it’s a huge deal to me to be able to work with moCa. It’s at the top of my list to work with an established museum as such and to be a part of an art community that showcases contemporary art.” 

Artists-in-residence receive an honorarium, program support, a dedicated studio space inside the museum, professional development opportunities, access to the museum’s production studios, and administrative support. During their time in residence, each artist will develop a site-specific project that activates a site in the building outside of the traditional gallery spaces with production funds provided by moCa. 

“I knew the moCa Cleveland AIR program would be a great opportunity to work with and have the resources of a larger institution, and for the work I make about Black people to have a bigger platform to be viewed,” said future artist-in-residence Amber N. Ford. “My goal is to explore, experiment, and push the boundaries of both how I make and display work. This residency will give me both the time and space to continue to make with a purpose.”

The moCa AIR program highlights each artist’s work and creative practice. moCa’s third floor is being reimagined with both a private studio space and a public interactive space for audiences to learn about each artist. Artists-in-residence will work with moCa’s engagement team to develop onsite and virtual programs about their work including  workshops, talks, and videos. “Whether it is reference work for storytelling or making dolls, I am a lifelong learner. I am passionate about exploring cultural, religious, spiritual, and folk art traditions from around the world,” said AIR artist Joyce Morrow Jones. 

More than 50 artists applied to this program in early 2021. The three AIR artists were chosen by a jury that included museum staff from various departments alongside members of moCa’s Education and Engagement Committee (EEC). The EEC is a community-based advisory group representing  a range of perspectives and professional backgrounds that provides moCa with input to assist in shaping public and educational programming.  moCa AIR program coordinator and Curator of Public Programs Lauren Leving reflects: “The moCa AIR application process was collaboratively designed and implemented, prioritizing accessibility at every stage including many voices in the selection process. It is clear from the quantity and quality of applications that opportunities like this are greatly needed in Northeast Ohio, especially right now. moCa is thrilled to work alongside these incredible artists and engage them with our audiences over the next year and beyond.”

“Being part of the moCa AIR Selection Committee has been an amazing experience. It’s thrilling and enlightening to discover the rich pool of artists in our community,” noted Rafael Hernández Brito, EEC Member and Bilingual Announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Browns. “This process has allowed me to be part of a group that will provide emerging artists with the opportunity to share their work with moCa visitors and the space to work on projects that they might not have been able to work on before. The art future is very bright in our community.”

 

The AIR program is generously sponsored by Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, with additional support from Char and Chuck Fowler. 

 

About the artists:

Joyce Morrow Jones    Joyce Morrow Jones-Strength of the Ancestral Realm (Part of Ancestors are Our Strength triptych)   

Summer 2021

Joyce Morrow Jones is a mixed media fiber and sculpture artist weaving the art of storytelling through her creations. Her work is inspired by transformational stories of women in their journey through life, history, and cultural traditions. African and Diaspora themes reflecting cultural traditions often with multicultural images are also prominent in her artwork. Born in Cleveland, Joyce acknowledges her Jamaican and African heritage. Those influences will continue throughout her residency with moCa as she expands “Ancestral Tributes” in both oral tradition of storytelling and creative expression. Select exhibitions include shows at BayArts in Bay Village, OH; Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, OH; and the Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH. She was a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at Karamu House.

Find out more about Joyce Morrow Jones at joycemorrowjones.com

Left: Joyce Morrow Jones; Right: Joyce Morrow Jones, Strength of the Ancestral Realm (Part of Ancestors are Our Strength triptych), 2018. Mixed media relief covered with African Ankara fabric collage, 16 x 30 in. (40.64 x 76.2 cm). Courtesy the artist

 

 

Amber N. Ford    Amber N. Ford-Powerknots  

Winter 2022

Amber N. Ford is an artist based in Cleveland, OH. She received her BFA in Photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art (2016). Interested in race, and identity, she is best known for her work in portraiture, which she considers a collaborative engagement between photographer and sitter. Her work is currently on view at ThirdSpace Action Lab as a part of Imagine Otherwise, and has been featured in exhibitions at Kent State University, Transformer Station, SPACES Gallery, The Morgan Conservatory, The Cleveland Print Room, Zygote Press, and Waterloo Arts, as well as in outdoor public spaces on the Capitol Theatre Building located at the corner of Detroit and West 65th. Recent awards include Gordon Square Arts District Artist-In-Residence (2019) and the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2017).

Find out more about Amber N. Ford at ambernford.com

Left: Amber N. Ford; Right: Amber N. Ford, Power Knots, 2020. Archival pigment print, 36 x 24 in. (91.44 x 60.96 cm). Courtesy the artist

 

Erykah Townsend    Erykah Townsend-McFurbys

Summer 2022

Erykah Townsend, also known as E.T., is a multimedia conceptual artist from Cleveland, Ohio. Her paintings and objects are heavily influenced by pop culture. She quotes, “I use pop culture as a medium itself—exploring the spaces it fills in our lives and the inquiry of how real are the imaginary.” Her reflective and humorous narratives are interpretations of personal experiences, comments on consumerism and art history. Characters, icons, and objects depicted in her work play as avatars of her allegories and criticism, while they retain aspects of their original source. Townsend embodies her phrase “Substantially Inconsistent,” as she routinely explores different styles within the series in her practice, sustaining her urge to keep evolving. Laboriously inspired by the miscellaneous body of work by Andy Warhol, she embraces different media and visual depictions. Townsend received her BFA in painting from The Cleveland Institute of Art in 2020. Her work has been exhibited in the Akron Art Museum and Newsense Gallery in Cleveland.

Find out more about Erykah Townsend at milkcrate.studio

Left: Erykah Townsend; Right: Erykah Townsend, McFurbys, 2021. Acrylic, oil pastels, furbys, crylic sheet, fabric, Poly-fil, wood, 44 x 40 in. (111.76 x 101.6 cm). Courtesy the artist