What makes you Human, be it not for your art?
The Link Between Art And The Economic Health Of The Community
We live and breathe art every single day.
Data released by the National Endowment for The Arts shows that the arts contributed well over $760 billion to the economy of our country in 2015 alone. More so than transportation, warehousing, or agriculture.
Considering those numbers, it’s no surprise that nearly 5 million workers are employed in fields related to the arts across the United States. In addition, it supported a positive trade balance by exporting 20 billion more than it imported.
While the arts benefit a community by attracting tourists, creative talent, and cultural diversity, it also attracts startup companies in the fields of fashion, advertising, design, and marketing. This of course leads to jobs, new residents, and a boost for other businesses in the vicinity. It’s a winning situation for all.
Black Art in America
Artwork By Chidebe Chinedu.
“Invisible Monsters-Queen Supreme”
By Ania Pogudz
Artwork By Stacie Monday
Jordan Arnell Evans
Jordan Arnell Evans (born April 28, 1990) is an American artist, illustrator, graphic designer, painter, videographer, and creator of the "EZTAUGHTME" brand. Jordan is most known for the artwork that he put together for the start of the 2016 NBA season which was a featured art piece that included Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert .
Jordan is also known for the art piece he put together for Kanye West which later he found out through Cyhi The Prince Instagram that he helped inspired Kanye new album long-awaited album "Yandhi." Jordan has designed mostly for the local scenes but has also worked with celebrities and professionally including work with the Clevland Cavaliers, The NFL, Crown Royal, Wiz Khalifa, Drake, and many more.
Enjoy more of his creations through his website.
Follow him on Instagram @eztaughtme
Syracuse in focus
This month featured photographer hails from Syracuse, New York.
Kaleigh Bigford was born and raised in Syracuse and comes from a family that fostered creativity. Throughout grade school, she took every art class available to her which let to finding her passion in photography her junior year. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Oneonta with a focus in photography and ultimately graduated in 2014.
Since graduating she has worked as a restaurant manager and freelance photographer. She shared that her favorite jobs are always portrait shoots and went on to say that it is an opportunity to connect with people and create unique images.
Kaleigh works with both film and digital cameras. She acknowledges that digital photography holds many advantages but in many ways is a representation of the age of instant satisfaction that we now live in and she feels that film forces her to be more deliberate with her shots.
Since the lockdown, Kaleigh has been indulging in another passion, baking. She feels that similar to working with film, taking the time to cook and bake for yourself makes for a more thoughtful experience. As of late, her two passions naturally have started to merge. As someone who believes she's not the best with verbal expression, photography gives Kaleigh a loud and vibrant voice.
Similar to so many, this lockdown has caused its challenges not only financially but logistically. How does a photographer who makes a living shooting unique portraits manage during social distancing? Zoom of course. Ms. Bigford says that this technique has been an exercise in communication and feels that although a challenge this time has become a period of innovation and people are having to change how they operate in this new reality.
Life In Color
Hi! I’m Corianna Klepac:
I started making art as soon as I could hold a crayon. I was lucky enough to go to an arts magnet school in Palm Beach, Florida where I really honed my craft. I dabbled in printmaking, photography, beadwork, tattooing, installation sculpture and philosophy. All of this led me to painting which is so fluid and forgiving. My parents are both artistic, my father is a master carpenter and my mother is a crafter and graphic designer. My sister is a writer and my brother is a guitarist in a band.
My husband and I are a blended family with 8 kids. I have 3 kids, he has 3 and we have twins adopted from Ethiopia. So at the moment, we have 3 sixth graders. The youngest is 10 and the oldest 21. They are all old enough to entertain themselves and I have 7 hours a day to create while they’re at school. I actually love juggling housework, cooking, fitness, and art. My art studio is right above where my youngest has his “gaming station.”
My husband is my rock, biggest inspiration, and best friend. He owns a painting business, so we are both painters but he paints buildings. He’s a wonderful father and mentor to everyone who knows him. I know most people can’t say they have found their soulmate but I truly have.
I grew up in South Florida, we moved from Miami where I was born to Loxahatchee, where we lived off-grid while my parents built our house. It was an amazing childhood full of golf carts, horseback riding, alligators, and airboats. My parents sold our childhood home when I was a senior in high school and relocated to the mountains of NC where I live now near Asheville. The art scene here is amazing and I’ve painted a bunch of murals around town.
I’ve sold over 1500 original paintings worldwide and hope to be in art history books someday. I truly believe in legacy and what you leave behind can live on. Some of my paintings are personal to me but my joy comes from creating what I like to call “family heirlooms” for my collectors, paintings that are special for that family. You know, like if the house was on fire they would grab my original painting to save it.
Corianna can be reached through Instagram @Coriannaklepak
Image by Mike Sweetman Photography
Good art is disturbing.
It makes you ask questions. It challenges you. It holds your gaze
as it invokes the forces of Humanity in you. This photograph has long been one of our favorites and it accomplishes all these things. What is a disheveled man who appears to be homeless, a life tattered and unraveled, doing holding a tightly bundled innocent and unknowing newborn? The contrast is startling; a hard life, long ago derailed by the hard things, and a new beginning, unblemished...with endless potential and possibility.
By how much are the trajectories of our lives separated? If you live long enough you start to realize how much hinges on pure cold luck. When we can see that, we create an opportunity to grow more merciful of one another and more empathetic of those we quickly shuffle by on sidewalks.
This picture was taken by Mike Sweetman who is featured below. The man in the picture, who is homeless and struggles with mental health, is the grandfather of the child. His daughter tracked him down after giving birth to the baby. As luck would have it, Mike just so happened to be near and noticed the scene unfolding before offering to shoot the meeting between baby and grandfather.
Life Behind The Lens: Mike Sweetman
Mike Sweetman was raised in midtown Manhattan on 48th street. Hell’s Kitchen, in the 70’s and 80’s, back when the neighborhood lived up to the name.
His love for photography began while participating in a five borough-wide photo essay contest, a contest he ultimately won.
Life as it often does led Mike down a different path and he began what turned out to be a 25-year long career in the culinary field. His dishes are no less artistic than his photography and his customers rave about his skills in French, Italian, and Mexican cuisine.
While Mr. Sweetman still enjoys creating with food as his medium, photography remains his true passion and plays center stage in his life only coming second to his three children.
Mike states that when he looks through the camera it’s as if the world disappears and it’s just him and his subject, whether it be a live subject or him indulging in his love of street photography in his old stomping grounds.
When he is working with people he prefers to "capture moments" as they happen to allow people to see his perspective on life and humanity. He enjoys playing with light and scouting out amazing locations that turn a shoot into something really special. When he’s not working with people he can be found taking photos for new businesses or helping others manage social media photography.
Mike never has two days that are the same but one thing that is constant is his passion for breaking his own limits. No matter where you meet him, in the kitchen or behind the camera he will be sure to connect with you and you will leave having made a new friend.
Today, he can be found doing shoots all over the Tri-state area but, just like his work, he doesn't get hung up on boundaries. He can be found on Instagram @Mikesweetmanphotography and he can be reached via his website.
Robin is a 22-year-old artist and Barista from Upstate New York who has been producing art for most of his life. It wasn't until highschool however that he realized just how important the arts were and the role that creating was going to take in his future.
He is primarily self-taught minus instruction in school and some community drawing classes and has future plans of pursuing a Masters in art education hopefully beginning in the fall of 2020.
Robin’s life revolves around art. His circle of friends are all artists or artistically minded individuals who have become an extended family. With them all being imaginative and creative the perspective they each bring to the relationship is one that is truly valued.
The style of artwork that he produces can best be described as beautiful and unexpected. Colors, patterns, and textures can be found in places where tradition has yet to find them which leads to works of art with tremendous depth and interest. You may notice a bit of the southwest in some pieces as it integrated its way into his style during a period of living in Las Vegas.
Robin has been featured locally with the Rome New York Art Association and has future plans for a group show near the end of the year.
Below are Robins featured works. To view more of this artists work or to make contact, go to robin.theriault on Instagram, Robin Theriault Art on Facebook, or at
Branwen’s love of art started at an early age. She comes from a creative family of woodworkers and crafters and was lovingly encouraged to pursue classes in the fine arts.
In 1969 Branwen entered the Navy as an Electronics Technician and then transferred to Community College and then Cornell University where she received a Bachelors in Wildlife Biology. Throughout her younger days she continued to hone her craft and take the occasional art class.
While working at the library at Cornell she decided to make that her career and returned to college where she received her Masters degree at Drexel College in Philadelphia.
In 1984 Branwen married and began a family, which soon included two children, a boy and a girl. Between 1985 and 2007 she worked at Morrisville College’s library and due to a rigorous schedule art took a back seat for a great number of years.
After her children were both in college she began sketching again and found art to be very therapeutic in dealing with the grief felt from the loss of her mother then years later, her father. All the while filling sketchbook after sketchbook trying to deal with depression and inner conflict.
In 2018 after 35 years of marriage, Branwen came out to her wife and family as trangender and explained that she had felt this way her entire existence. While this was the end of an old life it was the beginning of the life she was always intended to lead.
She now lives a very happy and fulfilling life as a Government contract technical librarian in an Air Force Base research lab in Upstate New York. Art now plays a major part of her life and she is involved in her community in a big way.
Branwen is the Secretary on the Executive Board of the Rome Art Association and her work has been featured in many places including; The Capital Gallery, The REACH Center, The History Museum/Historical Society, The Frame and Photo shop and The Pratt House Community Art Center. She has also had a one month show at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Utica, been artist of the month at City hall and various banks in the community and received an honorable mention from the Community Arts Council in Ithica . In addition she was also honored to receive an award at the Rome Art and Community Center from Jervis Library.
Branwen is currently working on a series of non-Christian holy places on scratchboard which is her preferred medium. She also enjoys using water color pens and pen and ink.
In the last 18 months she has begun writing poetry which can be found on Medium.com which is where she also writes for Empowered Trans Woman, an online publication.
Her work can be viewed and purchased on her website.