A New Dawn Blooms at County Courthouse

Student Artists Invested in Display
Posted on 06/13/2022
Image of A New Dawn BloomsCurated Courthouse unveiled its most permanent piece to date in the historic Summit County Courthouse with A New Dawn Blooms, a large ceramic work affixed to the courthouse wall by Akron area ceramics artist Bonnie Cohen. May celebrations included a talk-back with Akron Public Schools student artists who had been part of the project, as well as a ceremony and reception comprising the public, donors, artists and special guests.

Cohen’s radiant mosaic now permanently transforms the end of the annex hallway. Visitors may view the 5-by-14-foot artwork from across the first floor of both the original courthouse and the annex. Curated Courthouse, the partnership between Summit County Probate Court and Curated Storefront, funded the project with money raised through private donations and grant funding.

The shimmering design features trillium, the state wildflower for Ohio, which represents rebirth and growth. The piece incorporated about 100 four-inch tiles in the mosaic's border created by art students from North High School and Firestone CLC led by teachers Steve Beltrondo and Michael Sieber.

Due to the pandemic, Cohen couldn’t meet with the students in person until they all arrived at the courthouse on May 10 to view the artwork in place. Demonstration videos recorded at Cohen’s home studio and created by Karen Stepic, an Akron Public Schools counselor, taught students techniques so that each piece -- while unique -- would fit the size and thickness required to seamlessly complete the artwork.

The work incorporates thousands of pieces of glass and ceramic tile, much of it recycled glass or handmade. Cohen glazed and placed each student tile into the final artwork on four panels, each weighing approximately 100 pounds. The panels were transported and installed permanently onto the courthouse wall.

“Mosaic art is about how each piece relates to the pieces around it. Everything must work together to create one beautiful picture,” said Cohen. “I wanted to make sure this artwork had a sense of place and purpose. I hope it will be a light at the end of this long hallway and draw people closer, to inspire, lighten and calm their moods on what might be one of the most stressful times in their lives.”

A sense of time and place was important to Cohen as she sought inspiration. In addition to the use of trillium, she was moved by young poet laureate Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb from the 2021 presidential inauguration. Gorman’s words, “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it,” complete the ceramic.

The students' time at the courthouse allowed them to view and take pictures of the finished piece as well as other works on display. They were treated to a talk-back session with Cohen who is a 1971 Akron Public Schools graduate. She shared the process of creating public art as well as the business side of her craft such as grant writing and commission proposals.

An additional “sister” piece created from tiles crafted by Buchtel CLC art students, led by teacher Annette Economus, now adorns the grand jury lobby. The piece coordinates with other works curated in that lobby to provide an uplifting and soothing environment in the once dark and bleak corridor.

The public unveiling on May 19 celebrated the philanthropic support for this project as well as all of the artists who have been a part of the Curated Courthouse. Initial funding began in late 2019 with a Knight Arts Challenge Grant funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Matching and additional funds were raised to commission A New Dawn Blooms. The total cost for the piece was $45,000 including the in-kind contribution of Akron Public Schools. Most of the money went directly to artist Cohen and was raised through individuals, foundations and law firm donations.

“We decided a couple of years ago to honor the courthouse and the fact that the majority of people here are in the building for something sad,” shared Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer. “We try to give them a moment away from whatever their sadness is. In addition to permanent art, we also have rotating shows of local under-recognized artists.“

The public may view The New Dawn Blooms and the other works of the courthouse during normal court hours Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. A map was created for the unveiling event that details all of the permanent art for the Curated Courthouse.

Image of A New Dawn Blooms video QR codeWatch a video detailing this project and installation: https://bit.ly/NewDawnBlooms2

Image of Courthouse art map QR codeA map of the permanent pieces in the Courthouse can be found here: https://bit.ly/3ccmap

Image of A New Dawn Blooms

Photo 1 - In progress, A New Dawn Blooms by Bonnie Cohen. Photo Credit Summit County Probate Court

Image of A New Dawn Blooms

Photo 2 - Completed, A New Dawn Blooms by Bonnie Cohen. Photo Credit Summit County Probate Court

Image of A New Dawn Blooms

Photo 3 - Students from Firestone CLC, Buchtel CLC and North High School see their work incorporated into the piece for the first time. Photo Credit Randy Cohen

Image of A New Dawn Blooms

Photo 4 – Artist Bonnie Cohen with A New Dawn Blooms. Photo Credit Randy Cohen
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