Knight Arts Forces Combined: #Overlooked teams up with Curated Storefront

Q&A with Shane Wynn (pictured above)

Photographer and Knight Arts Challenge winner Shane Wynn is working with Knight Arts Challenge winner and The Curated Storefront mastermind Richard Rogers to bring the empty storefronts in downtown Akron back to life. We wanted to know more about the partnership.

Photo of Baluki Kgosidialwa by Shane Wynn.

How are you collaborating with The Curated Storefront to bring art to the streets of downtown Akron?

I am so fortunate to collaborate with The Curated Storefront. My Knight proposal included displaying my portraits in outward facing windows along Main street. I would have had a real hurdle in transforming a space myself and it was a very lucky coincidence that Rick’s project proposed to do this very thing. Fortunately they accepted my work through their curation process, and I will benefit from their previous experience curating a storefront in Akron. I think that there is a trend to make artwork more accessible, so I am not surprised that both of our ideas had similar elements.

How did this partnership come about?

When I read the other Knight winners’ proposals and learned of Rick’s idea I immediately thought of my own proposal and how a collaboration seemed to be a fit. I later contacted Rick to have a conversation to describe what I was working on but was unsure if our timelines would mesh (I only had several finished pieces at the time). I then later connected with Courtney Cable who was helping with the curation process and sent along my finished series. She accepted my work and we quickly began to work out details from there. She is a dynamo.

Do you know where (in which storefronts) your art will be displayed?

Yes. The work will be displayed in the O’Neils Building storefronts. In another coincidence, I proposed a series of exactly nine portraits as the space I initially scouted for the pieces were the nine windows in front of the O’Neils building. When Courtney approached me to ask which windows I had my eye on, they were already in talks to transform that exact space. I got really lucky again.

Your Knight Arts Challenge winning project, #Overlooked features portraits of Akron women leaders set against backgrounds of underused or abandoned spaces, in particular old factories and empty storefronts. Will some of the photos on display with The Curated Storefront contain backdrops of the very same empty storefronts in which they’re being displayed? (Or is that too meta? Haha.)

Not those exact spaces, but spaces very nearby. I did initially scout the O’Neils building interior but it was more modern than the spaces I was searching for. I photographed in the nearby White Law building and the Savings and Loans building. They have more of the distressed look. I like to create a more layered and visually dynamic backdrop for the photographs.
(Photos by Shane Wynn)