Leigh Bongiorno Selected as Featured Artist for Cleveland RTA Inter | Urban Art Project
CLEVELAND, June 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Internationally renowned fine artist Leigh Bongiorno has been selected as one of 25 fine artists to help transform the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) into a rolling art museum for contemporary art. LAND studio in partnership with the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), NOACA, Anisfield-Wolf and The Cleveland Foundation are transforming the rapid transit line through a series of large-scale, artist-designed murals, installations, and experiences.
The multiphase project is deeply rooted in Cleveland and is driven by award-winning novels from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. LAND Studio sought out 25 local, national and international artists to create artworks that will be installed on windows of 25 Red Line train cars. Selected artists are currently creating their artworks for the second phase of this public art project, using inspiration from themes inspired by the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, which celebrates authors of literary works dealing with social justice and the celebration of diversity and the people of all cultures and backgrounds.
Bongiorno’s artwork for the Inter|Urban art project will be directly inspired by Andrew Solomon’s book, Far from the Tree. In this book, the writer deals with different ideas of identity, using nearly ten years of research on horizontal identities that involve pathological or medical issues that help shape us as we grow up. Vertical identities are those we inherit, which can be genetic or cultural, such as race, religion and language. Horizontal identities derive from those aspects that differentiate us from our family, so must be acquired from peers. Disability, mental illness, sexual divergence and genius are all horizontal identities. Using these distinctions, Solomon expands the concept of diversity to include a tapestry of human differences.
All 25 artists selected for this project each receive $1,500 to create designs for artworks capable of being digitized, printed on vinyl, and affixed to the windows of a rapid transit car. Bongiorno’s artistic composition will illustrate the topic of identity in relation to the horizontal identity theory by Solomon and will be creating an artwork that specifically relates to the struggles, hurdles and joys of growing up deaf.
“This project really resonated with me,” Bongiorno said. “The book, Far From the Tree, discusses people of a marginalized society in a very non-biased way—I loved that. The chapter on deafness really inspired me—sign language transcends culture in the same way art does. As I found out in the book, a lot of times a deaf person can travel to a foreign country and be able to communicate there with the deaf people from that country—that just amazes me. It transcends culture and spoken word in the same way visual art does.”
As a native Clevelander, this public art project with the city of Cleveland holds additional significance to Bongiorno. “As someone born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, this project means a lot to me. I’ve lived all over the country and nowhere else did I notice the hometown pride and brotherhood that you see here in Cleveland. For this city, my city, to open its arms to me and allow me to put my artwork on it, is a feeling beyond words,” Bongiorno said.
Inter|Urban is a citywide initiative to create an experience that connects public transit riders physically, socially, and culturally. The Inter|Urban serves as a platform for creative expression, world-class experiences, and community programming.
About Leigh Bongiorno
Cleveland-based Leigh Bongiorno has made a name for herself in the art world by creating artworks that give a visual voice to the voiceless. Focusing on figurative representational artworks, Bongiorno creates compelling paintings evoking a sensitive glance at humanity by capturing the life force and image of marginalized people. With a degree in Biomedical Illustration from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and having studied with a local portrait artist, Bongiorno’s style of art blends imaginative surrealism and photorealism for an insightful and thorough look and the human experience. Leigh’s work has been displayed in galleries and museums around the country from New York to Los Angeles. She recently settled back in her hometown of Cleveland where she plans to further expand her artistic and humanitarian endeavors in the local, national, and international community.