MOCA Cleveland Announces Summer Exhibitions

April 15, 2015

Contact: Peter Vertes                                                        
216.658.6913 |
Images and interviews available upon request             


MOCA Cleveland Announces Summer Exhibitions
Running June 12 – September 6, 2015

-- How to Remain Human is MOCA’s newest regional show
-- free movement power nomenclature pressure weight
features rising artist Tony Lewis

CLEVELAND (April 15, 2015) – The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland celebrates art and artists connected to the region with the opening of its summer 2015 season on Friday, June 12. Two new exhibitions will be on view: How to Remain Human, a major group show, as well as free movement power nomenclature pressure weight, a solo show by 28-year-old Chicago-based artist Tony Lewis.

“Engaging the region is an essential part of MOCA’s mission,” says Executive Director Jill Snyder. “One of the advantages of our perspective outside the world’s major art centers is being able to curate art and experience of our particular time and place. In so doing, we encourage dialogue that connects these artists to the larger, international art world.”

How to Remain Human features 13 artists and one collective connected to Cleveland and the surrounding region, including neighboring cities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. The exhibition is a sequel to 2013’s Realization is Better than Anticipation, MOCA’s first regionally-focused show at its iconic new building in Cleveland’s Uptown district. How to Remain Human continues MOCA’s focused engagement with, and advancement of, art being made here and close by.

free movement power nomenclature pressure weight features new drawings and sculptures by Tony Lewis, a quickly rising star in the international art world who was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Lewis uses a diverse array of drawing methods and literary sources to consider how words, symbols, and marks connote meaning, often in relation to identity and social politics.


How To Remain Human
June 12 – September 6, 2015
Curated by Megan Lykins Reich, Deputy Director of Program, Planning, and Engagement, and Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator

How to Remain Human features emerging, mid-career, and established artists, connected to Cleveland and the surrounding region. The exhibition will include painting, collage, comics, sculpture, fashion design, poetry, video, sound, and an architectural installation.  

The exhibition’s title is a line from the late Ohio writer d.a. levy's "Suburban Monastery Death Poem" (1968). Ardent, aching, and raw, levy's poetry captured the struggle for freedom and expression during a tumultuous time in Cleveland’s history. Among the artists in How to Remain Human, there is a shared sense of the need to make, in order to interrogate life and claim space. They explore different ways of acting in and experiencing the world, questioning how we can go on, relate, and be. Language and narratives are found in many of the works, presenting chronicles of the everyday and the urgent need to communicate. Thick paint, familiar objects, and engagements with the body give the exhibition a heightened sense of touch and physicality. Humor and nonsense become tools to playfully puncture life’s routines, habits, and trials.

Reich says, “The exhibition will be bold, weighty, thick, spirited, and above all else, honest.  The works address a full spectrum of human experience: there is laughter, pain, confusion, and beauty. Cleveland itself has a large presence in the show, as many of the artists from here are dealing with their impressions of the city. In a sense, the narrative of Cleveland and the broader region acts as a framework, a story of struggle, decay, and transformation that also plays out on a personal level.”

Bouthillier adds, “This is an exhibition that questions openly and feels deeply. In the face of everything that dehumanizes – economic and racial inequality, consumerism, mass media, and digitization – art has the radical potential to resist and reclaim.  These artists in How to Remain Human ask us to look differently, to reconnect with ourselves, our environment, and each other.”

How to Remain Human is expansive and immersive. In addition to occupying the Museum’s 4th floor Mueller Family Gallery, featured projects will be displayed throughout the Museum.

·         Cleveland-based artist Jimmy Kuehnle will install approximately 40’ tall and 25’ wide, neon pink inflatable sculpture in the Museum’s  Kohl Atrium. Contrasting with the Museum’s geometric design, this soft form will expand and contract, as if breathing, and internal lights will make it visible from outside the Museum at night.

·         Videos by the collective Dadpranks, which feature jokes, gags, and strange actions carried out with bizarre objects, will be shown continuously in the ground-floor Gund Commons.

·         The internal fire escape staircase will feature a new sound installation by Ben Hall and his collaborator Andrew Mehall, both of whom are interdisciplinary artists based in Detroit.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an array of public programs, both onsite and out in the community. A comprehensive catalog, featuring commissioned essays on each artist, will be available for free download online.

Artists in How to Remain Human:

Mary Ann Aitken (1960, Detroit, MI—2012, Brooklyn, NY); works in painting on canvas and newspaper
Derf Backderf (1959, Richfield, OH); lives and works in Cleveland, OH; works in graphic novels and comix
Cara Benedetto (1979, Wausau, WI); lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA; works in performance and prints
Christi Birchfield (1983, Cleveland); lives and works in Cleveland; works in sculpture and printmaking
Dadpranks (Collective, founded Pittsburgh, 2013); works in video


Lauren Goshinski (1981, Pompton Plains, NJ), lives and works in Pittsburgh

Kate Hansen (1982, Pittsburgh) , lives and works in Pittsburgh

Isla Hansen (1987, Philadelphia, PA), lives and works in Pittsburgh

Elina Malkin (1982, Philadelphia, PA), lives and works in Pittsburgh

Nina Sarnelle (1985, Belchertown, MA), lives and works in Los Angeles, CA

Laura A. Warman (1989, Porland, OR), lives and works in Amherst, MA
Kevin Jerome Everson (1969, Mansfield, OH); lives and works in Charlottesville, VA; works in film and video
Ben Hall (1977, Detroit); lives and works in Detroit; works in sculpture and sound installation
Jae Jarrell (1935, Cleveland); lives and works in Cleveland; works in garment design
Harris Johnson (1986, Columbus, OH); lives and works in Richmond, VA; works in painting and sculpture
Jimmy Kuehnle (1979, Atlanta, GA); lives and works in Cleveland; works in large-scale inflatable sculpture
d. a. levy (1942, Parma, OH—1968, Cleveland); works in poetry and collage
Michelangelo Lovelace (1960, Cleveland); lives and works in Cleveland; works in painting
Dylan Spaysky (1981, Pontiac, MI); lives and works in Detroit; works in sculpture
Carmen Winant (1983, San Francisco, CA); lives and works in Columbus; works in large-scale collage


How to Remain Human is made possible with the generous support of John P. Murphy Foundation, Medical Mutual of Ohio, and Thompson Hine LLP.

All 2015 Exhibitions are funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Leadership Circle gifts from the Britton Fund, Doreen and Dick Cahoon, Joanne Cohen and Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, Victoria Colligan and John Stalcup, Becky Dunn, Lauren Rich Fine and Gary Giller, Barbara and Peter Galvin, Harriet and Victor Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Donna and Stewart Kohl, Toby Devan Lewis, Scott Mueller, and Boake and Marian Sells.


free movement power nomenclature pressure weight
June 6 – September 6, 2015
Organized by Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator, MOCA

Tony Lewis’s works range from small collages and simple actions to large works on paper and massive floor installations.  Lewis often works with graphite powder, a rich and chaotic material that covers nearly every surface in his studio. Language is a central component to Lewis’s practice, and he incorporates found texts from diverse sources including Calvin & Hobbes comics and Life’s Little Instruction Book (a collection of inspirational advice and rules to live by). Lewis isolates, deconstructs, or magnifies these excerpts, shifting their meaning and revealing the ways in which they assume, exclude, and exert power, while also speaking to personal fears and desires. In other works, Lewis concentrates on individual letters strung together, or a solitary character, emphasizing the abstract nature of language and the linear, gestural action of the writing.

free movement power nomenclature pressure weight will feature six new large-scale works from the artist’s recently begun series of Gregg shorthand drawings. Gregg shorthand was invented in 1888 and is a phonetic writing system, meaning that a character’s shape corresponds to the sound of a spoken word. Each of the drawings included at MOCA Cleveland represents one of the words from the exhibition’s title, chosen by the artist as elements and forces that are significant in his practice. The exhibition will also feature new installations of two of the artist’s large scale “floor drawings.” These works begin as graphite floor coverings for entire rooms, which are then pulled up and compressed into sculptural objects that are transform each time they are exhibited.


Rose Bouthillier, MOCA Cleveland’s Associate Curator, says, “Tony Lewis takes on drawing in its most expanded sense. A drawing can be a graphite-covered tennis ball thrown against the wall; a surface that you walk on; a sentence or a word. It all relates back to action, line, and language, and the power of communicating through the body and the hand.” She adds, “Lewis’s studio is an incredible environment, absolutely covered in graphite powder, one of his favorite materials, and packed with objects, books, and sketches. The floor itself is another tool that he uses; drawings are laid out to accumulate marks and smudges.”

MOCA will celebrate the opening of free movement power nomenclature pressure weight on June 6, with a public lecture at 3:00 pm featuring Lewis, Bouthillier, and special guest Anthony Stepter, a curator, writer, and the coordinator of public programming for Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Tony Lewis (1986, LA), grew up in Cleveland and currently lives and works in Chicago. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Bindery Projects, Minneapolis; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; and Massimo de Carlo, London. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; NEXT (2014), The Arsenal, Montreal; and Retreat (2014), organized by Theaster Gates, and presented by Black Artist Retreat, Valerie Carberry Gallery and Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago.


free movement power nomenclature pressure weight is made possible by Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP, Squire Patton Boggs, and BlueBridge


How to Remain Human will be on view from June 12 through September 6, 2015 and free movement power nomenclature pressure weight will be on view from June 6 through September 6, 2015.

Admission for MOCA Cleveland members and children under 6 years old is free. General admission is $8; seniors 65+, $6; and students with valid ID, $5.

MOCA Cleveland’s hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 – 5 pm; open until 9 pm Thursdays; closed Mondays.

MOCA Cleveland, founded in 1968, is a leading force in Northeast Ohios cultural scene and is recognized nationally and internationally for its presentation of contemporary art and ideas.  For more information on MOCA and all of its programming, visit or call 216-421-8671.

MOCA Cleveland · 11400 Euclid Avenue · Cleveland, OH 44106 · 216-421-8671

# # #