The Norma Herr Women’s Center and the Campus International K-8 School are situated right across the street from one another on Payne Avenue, however, these two populations rarely ever interact. Local grassroots organization ‘Across the Lines’ is working to change that through the creation of art.
After launching in June of 2018 with grant funding from Neighborhood Connections and with partnership from Campus District, Inc. and Guy-Vincent Art, Across the Lines has been providing a collaborative, open art space with a goal of connecting community members that may otherwise never connect at all. Over the past 8 months, Jane Finley, creator of Across the Lines, has turned her studio in the ArtCraft building on Superior Avenue into a creative hub, housing a space for individuals to meet and create art.
Across the Lines’ most recent efforts have been dedicated to hosting weekly art sessions with women experiencing homelessness at Norma Herr and 5th grade students at the Campus International School. These weekly sessions offer a space for the women and students to gather in the same room and create art, while also taking part in facilitated activities to get to know one another. The artwork they create during these sessions will directly inspire multiple murals that will go up on the outside of both the Women’s Center and the neighboring Campus International School in the Spring of this year.
Finley loves being able to see the students and women interact with one another, and, for her, the final product of the murals is just an added bonus. Finley started Across the Lines as a result of her passion for connecting people through art and creativity. She cherishes the opportunity of being able to work with the women and students and is adamant on the fact that they bring as much talent and creativity to the room that anyone else could. Finley, who comes from a background in healthcare and psychology, works in tangent with Cleveland-based fine artist, Guy-Vincent, who will be creating the final design for the murals using different elements drawn from the women and students’ work.
Vincent is a full-time fine artist that has experience working as an art consultant, curator, freelance designer, and gallery owner. However, over recent years, Vincent has shifted some of his focus to art instructing. He began instructing art to individuals experiencing housing emergency at the Bishop William M. Cosgrove Center. At the Cosgrove Center, Vincent was able to help develop an arts program that explored many different avenues of art-making for these individuals, all while furthering his interest in instructing art.
Sitting in on a few of Vincent’s classes at Cosgrove greatly inspired Finley and helped her form the idea of Across the Lines. Her relationship with Campus District, Inc. allowed her to connect to different populations in the community, including the Campus International School. Fast forward a few years, and Vincent and Finley are now working together, facilitating weekly sessions with the women and students and planning future endeavors with the help of Campus District’s Director of Programming and Community Engagement, Rachel Oscar. With a recent victory in December of earning grant funding from the Fowler Family Foundation, Across the Lines, with ongoing collaboration from Guy-Vincent and Campus District Inc., will continue to be able to do this phenomenal work.
In the future, Finley hopes that Across the Lines can expand their reach to even more members of the community that may be divided and more artists like Vincent. As for Vincent, he plans on continuing to teach art to students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and has an exhibition coming to Downtown Cleveland later this year. In the meantime, be on the lookout for the Payne Avenue murals in the Spring and even more projects to come from this group that work to connect individuals through art.
To learn more about Across the Lines, check out their website and social media:
Learn more about Guy-Vincent here:
Donate and learn more about the mural project on Payne Avenue here:
Article by: Connor O’Brien