UA among 2019 Akron Knight Arts Challenge finalists recognized for innovative arts programs


The Synapse Art and Science Series is among the 36 Akron-based arts groups that were announced as finalists in the Akron Knight Arts Challenge on Aug. 14 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. These finalists are competing for a share of $1 million.

This is the fourth year for the community-wide initiative that funds projects designed to engage and enrich Akron through the arts. The winning projects will be announced Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Akron Art Museum.

“It’s very exciting that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is nationally recognizing the innovative programs in the arts at The University of Akron,” said Janice Troutman, director of UA’s Mary Schiller Myers School of Art. “Artists and designers are vital for developing innovation and community building. This recognition highlights how the Myers School of Art is front and center for re-imaging neighborhoods, celebrating individual identity and forging new horizons for collaborative research between design and science.” 




“We believe the arts inspire communities and connect people to each other and to our city,” noted Kyle Kutuchief, the Knight Foundation’s Akron program director. “These finalists prove that Akron is rich with collaborative ideas, storytellers from across the community and creative fuel for the future.”

Projects with campus ties are:

  • Art Bomb Brigade (seen in action in the photo above): Elisa Gargarella, associate professor in art education at the Myers School of Art, wants to develop more extensive training for practicing artists and to professionalize a local community mural arts program by starting an Art Bomb Artist Residency and Apprenticeship Project, with the goal to redefine public spaces in Akron and foster the next generation of arts leaders. Learn more about the Art Bomb Brigade.
  • //benitez_vogl: Markus Vogl, associate professor in graphic design at the Myers School of Art, and his wife Margarita Benitez, associate professor at the Fashion School at Kent State University, are finalists for a public art project titled “In silico et in situ: Chimney Swift Tower Sculptures.” Through a series of 10 large-scale outdoor sculptures in downtown Akron and its vicinity, their project is meant to reflect on the theme of discovery and explore the impact of public art on nature. Visit benitez_vogl
  • Synapse Art and Science Series:Led by Matthew Kolodziej, professor of painting at the Myers School of Art, Synapse: Nature’s Solutions is a partnership between the Myers School of Art and the Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center here at UA that will feature artists and designers exploring biomimicry. Highlighting Akron’s location in the Cuyahoga Valley and its legacy as a city of invention, a series of public lectures and an exhibition will explore how nature offers solutions to solving human challenges. The goal is to encourage inspiration and actions at the intersection of Art and STEM education (STEAM) and to build community engagement around environmental concerns. Visit the Synapse Art and Science Series
  • Shane Wynn: The UA alumna, a photographer, will document the stories of LGBTQ young people who have experienced homelessness as a result of their sexual identity through a traveling exhibition of photo essays and doorbell installations. Visit Shane Wynn online to learn more.

Media contact: Lisa Craig, 330-972-7429 or