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2900 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
Participants: Phyllis Seven Harris, Mary Taylor, Alexandria Wyant, Denise Astorino, Kris Barnes, and Harry Simmons [LGBT Center] + Tizziana Baldenebro, Cierra Rembert, Lauren Davies, Mallorie Freeman, Leila Khoury, Megan Young, and Adam Zimmerman [SPACES]
All around the world, museums display collections of other people’s belongings. Presentation of such objects may include frames, plinths, vitrines, platforms, descriptive text, focused lighting, and other devices. While these systems of classification, justification, and contextualizing may serve the viewing audience, art workers are increasingly considering how to better serve the source.
Without Instructions is a care-centered exchange and conversation between SPACES staff and LBGT Center of Greater Cleveland constituents with these thoughts in mind. Center participants share items of significance, SPACES staff install those pieces and post images of the gifted collections. Later, we gather to discuss the activity, including questions and personal responses.
Tizziana Baldenebro, SPACES Executive Director
Phyllis Seven Harris, LGBT Community Center Executive Director
1. Grandmother’s (Geneva) Purse, one of her fun and prized possessions. It reminds of her, sharp, graceful, different and fun.
3. Photo: My mom (Florence) and her two older siblings (Phillip and Olivia). It shows seemingly well kept children. They were very poor. You wouldn’t know if from the photo. A value my mom has kept. Don’t show your pain.
2. Grandfather’s (Henry) Hat. He had a little head and a big heart. He was cool and creative.
4. Drawing: My son Austin created it at age 5. We were in a coffee shop in Akron. He had a curly fro and I had locs. I love the depiction of us through his eyes on to the paper.
5. Artifact: African Milk Jug. Reminds me of motherhood. I relate it to connecting Africa and milk and being a Black mother.
These items I truly love because they represent people in my family. I have a small family. Not many cousins or aunties and uncles. I only had one set of grandparents that were in my life. I realized once I gathered the items that I didn’t have a artifact or anything representing my daughter. I felt bad about it for a moment and begin to look for something but realized I felt complete with offering the 5 items chosen.
Cierra Rembert, SPACES Artist Outreach Coordinator
Mary Taylor, Center Program Participant of SAGE + Volunteer
My items represent parts of my identity and representations of things that bring me joy.
My picture of the members of SAGE represent an extended family. They are part of so many of the positive moments in my life.
There is a photo of Devinity Jones, who both works at the Center as the Trans Wellness Coordinator and is also Miss Ohio All Star. Devinity means the world to me, but it also represents my goal and belief to celebrate the art of Drag…and all those who take part to share it with us.
I am an ally to the LGBTQ+ Community. While I may identify as straight, I have strong ties to the community and some of the people I hold most dear are part of this world. They are my friends, my family, my support. The bracelet and buttons I contributed symbolize this.
I submitted two different items which I feel give a good sense of who I am and what brings me happiness. My diabetic strips..tell the story of while someone may have health issues or are differently mobile, they can still be a part of the world, celebrate the people and things that make them love and laugh, and live to the fullest.
The figure of John Cena…??? I like wrestling, what can I say?
Lauren Davies, SPACES Development Assistant
Alexandria Wyant, Community Member, Artist, Medical Field Professional
I chose the glass small globe because I found it on a walk with Buck, pockets of them actually, and I like the fact that it's round yet misshapen and solid vessel, translucent yet clear, whole but damaged. And I found it here, in my neighborhood.
The South African (from South Africa) was given to me by a very special friend in college, this egg represents a vessel of the mystery of the birth and death of the many friendships over the years which have been dismantled because I'm gay.
The Indian incense vessel (from India), also given to me by very dear friend, represents the many people in my life who still love me and care about me despite my faults and iniquities.
The Scooby-Doo Mystery van for me represents my ostentatiousness, gregarious and sometimes overcompensating personality, which still holds for me five different identities which are always needed at different times with different friends, we can't be one person for all the people in our lives. We sometimes need to hold different roles for the individuals we care about.
The box represents a strong yet flammable vessel and flowers which represent times gone by, the many things I've missed out in life because I didn't know who I was and who I'm still looking for and that there's hope, for in pressing flowers, there is beauty and strength in their in their fragility.
Mallorie Freeman, SPACES Project Coordinator
Denise Astorino, LGBT Community Center Community Engagement Coordinator
Each of the items I chose represent a part of myself or a memory that contributed to who I am in this moment.
I have a bond with the Griffin and Sabine series as someone who I care for very much gave them to me as a gift. I discovered them decades ago and then was sent them again by this person who I hadn’t seen in years. I felt they connected me to her through time and distance much as the relationship between Griffin and Sabine..not able to see each other, but knowing the other is there.
My moose was a plush that I got right before I went to live in London for two years. This silly stuffed toy has seen more states and countries in the past 10 years with me than I can say. He has been by my side through many different changes and he brings me joy.
I chose to submit ties. They symbolize a turning in my life recently. Rediscovering and newly discovering myself include my sexuality and my queer identity. I am experimenting with a much more androgynous and fluid freedom to my style. It is more than just “outward appearance” but a celebration of coming into my own definition of beauty.
My masquerade mask depicts a part of my world and a time in my life that both gave me purpose but also allowed me to hide myself. Discovering theatre in my late teens truly saved my life. I dedicated my life to it and nothing else held that staying power with me. However, through the years, I now realize that I hid behind the wall of acting different roles because I didn’t know who I was. I created for validation and forgot the joy and wonder of the art form.
My HAMSA charm, or Hand of God symbol is a protective symbol that brings in luck, health, happiness and good fortune, warding off evil and negative feelings.
My Egyptian cat is from the same person who gifted me the Griffin and Sabine books. There is a regal energy to cat and a timelessness that I equated with her. It was a connection that was made when we were in two lives. I saw the cat as a kind of talisman and symbol of hope.
Leila Khoury, SPACES Creative Engagement Coordinator
Kris Barnes, Community Member, Artist and Teacher
What should I choose? What items can I choose to represent myself?
I am not young; I have had a lot of years of life. I am complex. I am a Gemini. I am interesting and creative as well as childlike. What kinds of things, what earthly belongings will represent me?
I have made some choices.
The first thing I picked, a basket. I made it. I wove it myself. It represents myself and my mom. She is a basket maker. She taught me how to do this style of basket known as a random-weave basket. She has taught me how to knit, cook, weave, create art and be a strong woman. She is a strong woman and taught me how to be resilient and loving.
I have chosen a tiny rainbow pad of paper. This is pride. This is my love of rainbows. I love all the colors. I always have been a fan of rainbows. I am also a fan of people getting rights, marriage rights, legal protections, human rights.
I have chosen a tiny stuffed bear. My partner has a nickname. We have been together for over 20 years. Bear is her name.
I have included this cool denim shirt. It has embroidered ladybugs, fringe, drawings, and people. It represents me. Denim is a comfortable staple. I am a comfortable person.
I have chosen a handmade book. It is made with watercolor paper bound in a book and the paintings are all done with acrylic paint. It makes me happy. Transforms me to another time. I love it. It is something I am proud of and something I am passionate about. I love painting.
I have a small book of photos of my hand sewn art books. I love embroidery. I am proud of my hard work.
I had a little tiny bag of coffee. It was in with my special personal items. It was nothing special. Maybe a dark roast or a flavored coffee. It is important to me. I enjoy coffee. I enjoy being wide awake.
Is this insightful? I do not know. Is this personal? Yes, very.
Adam Zimmerman, SPACES Project Coordinator
Harry Simmons, Center Program Participant of SAGE + Volunteer
I don’t have a lot to say except that the t-shirts and bracelets mean a lot to me. They tell of my story with the Center in volunteering and being part of my community. I have helped at Pride and different events, met some wonderful people, and just felt a part of something bigger than myself. That is so important for whoever you are.
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