What’s the Big Idea with Akron ArtWorks?

Name: Karin Coifman

Occupation: Psychologist

Hometown: New Haven, CT

Current neighborhood: West Akron

Name: Micah Beree

Occupation: Artist

Hometown: Tulsa, OK

Current neighborhood: West Akron


What is your big idea?

Our hope is to create a space where people of any age can develop their creativity and reap the psychological benefits of artistic activity. In today’s world, there is so much emphasis on technology and immediate access to information, we’ve lost that bit of ourselves that can just sit with an idea or a feeling and explore where it takes us, without judgement and without too much intention. Even in schools, kids are less able to explore their creativity as fewer and fewer resources are available for non-goal directed action and everything is oriented toward test preparation or practical skill development.

Our space is a place to come to and just be in the moment, in the experience of creating something that is yours, where there isn’t any right or wrong, just expression. That is to say we have an emphasis on process not product. The exploration of materials is very important before you set out to create something. You wouldn’t just start and run a marathon; you would train, get your body in form, and once you feel ready run your race. The same can be said for art. One needs to understand the limits and abilities of the materials you are working with before you can create a work of art. How does this pencil make lines? What are the limits of this clay? How does this canvas receive the paint? Once you have that knowledge, you can set out and express yourself with the confidence that comes with understanding yourself and the materials you are working with. Then, it can be all about expression and creativity, and being in the moment.


Why pursue it?

We have been mulling it over, off and on, since we have lived in Akron the last 7 years. We have wanted to do something that combines both of our passions and the studio is an ideal place for that. Karin is a researcher/psychologist and has wanted to go back to some more clinically oriented psychological work. Micah is an artist, and recently found himself working in a corporate setting. While that work has been rewarding, the idea of getting back to teaching and using his talents for his own work, presents a way back to his original goal (and training) to be an art educator.


When did you know your big idea was a good idea?

It’s hard to say We’ve known it was an idea we wanted to pursue. The pieces seem to be falling in place. We’ve had amazing support from friends, neighbors, and our families. Right now, there isn’t anything in Akron quite like this. Here’s hoping we are right, that it is a good idea!


How do you hope your big idea helps Akron grow?
We are committed to our Akron community. We moved here seven years ago and have fallen in love with this Rubber City. We have and will continue to provide activities that bring the community into the studio to enrich both them and us with creative action. We are hoping to build on our momentum with more community-oriented work and hopefully partnerships with some of the amazing art organizations that serve as the foundation of this great city.

(photos courtesy of Akron ArtWorks)