In 2050… An in-depth look at an Charea Harris exhibition: My bedside table

By Charlee Harris

Disclaimer: The following is a work of realistic fiction for our special 2050 issue, published in June 2021. These stories are meant to spark imagination, not forecast the future of Akron. 

Charea Harris is most often described as quiet and shy.

“I come from a large family of extrovert artists who speak their mind,” she says.

Charea, whose great-grandmother Jacqueline Harris opened the first fine art gallery in Kenmore, comes from a long line of artists and creatives.

“When you grow up around so many artists it can be difficult to find your lane creatively and be your person outside your family’s reputation,” Charea says.

Click here to read more content from our 2050 issue.

To find her place artistically, Charea began documenting different aspects of her life she felt made her unique. “I unconsciously started this project when I was five years old. I received my first camera at the Kenmore Community Center reopening and started taking pictures of my room.”  

“After going through my childhood camera, I realized that I had documented most of the major changes to the Kenmore neighborhood just from taking photos of my room, and more specifically, my bedside table, which is what I photographed the most because I was drawn to the way the light illuminated the glass,” she says.

In 2026, Kenmore received state funding to upgrade its community center, adding a state-of-the-art photography studio and arts center. The Incorvia Center for the Arts was named after longtime community center supervisor Alice Incorvia. Alice spent years taking the lead in bringing art programs to the Kenmore Community Center and spreading art through the community with several art installations on Kenmore Boulevard. 

“I want my legacy at the Kenmore Community Center to be that I worked really hard to provide the amazing people of Kenmore — and all of Akron and beyond — fun, quality programs, art classes, summer camps and special events at affordable prices” says Alice Incorvia.   

After taking photography classes conducted by photographer and long time Kenmore resident Dan Rowland at the community center for most of her youth, Charea began to volunteer at the Kim Jacobs Breast Cancer Resource Center, working in the food pantry and taking photos at local events. 

“The center changed so much that year. The organization was able to purchase the building and add housing and rehabilitation services. 2036 was truly an exciting time to live in Kenmore,” she recalls.

2036 was also the year in which five of the areas recording studios united to form an independent artists’ cohort geared toward the advancement of local independent arts. With the help of the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance and The Summit FM, they kicked off the first Moon Breakers International Music Festival. The festival was the first of its kind, bringing lots of international acts to Kenmore, many of whom stayed to take advantage of the cohort and community geared towards independent artists. 

“After that first festival, the Boulevard completely changed. Thai Soul Fusion Grill expanded into a brewery and we added a fine dining restaurant down the street. Kenmore Komics became a comic book museum and Marvel’s official movie screening location,” Charea recounts. 

In 2040, after becoming the creative director of her families contemporary art gallery, Charea purchased her first home in the Container Village, a small complex of prefabricated shipping container homes designed to be eco and energy-efficient. The complex provided affordable options for longtime residents that want to downsize in style and stay close to the action on the Boulevard. The Container Village took just two years to complete and comes equipped with a gym and community garden. 

“My husband and I always wanted to retire but stay close to the action of the city,” says Tina Boyes, who after serving two terms as Akron’s mayor also purchased a container home. “We sit on our patio and just listen to the buskers fill the air with beautiful music.” 

Tina was raised in Kenmore and spent 25 years assisting in its revitalization, serving as the executive director of the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance and creating building guidelines and community incentives. 

Tina and many other longtime residents are excited about the “My Bedside Table” exhibition. Walking through the show, you cannot help but feel like you are reading someone’s diary. It feels very personal like you’re reviewing something that is supposed to be private. It’s a perfectly maintained visual timeline and personal journal.

“I realized that what makes me unique is my journey and that although I can be soft-spoken and shy, my photography speaks volumes and tells my story.” 

The exhibition features large scale photographic images taken with several different camera methods ranging from smartphones to a Canon DSLR. These images were taken over the last 30 years and detail not only the changes in Charea’s life but also her community. Each image is from a different year and spotlight different items on Charea’s bedside table, which remains the same throughout the years.

“What started as just test shooting in my room has become the gateway to me finding my creative identity separate from my family, but interestingly, the bedside table never changing acts as a subtle reminder that my family will be there to support me in this journey.”

“My Bedside Table” will be on view from April 10-28 2050 at the Akron Art Museum. 

Charlee Harris was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. She loves her family, her community and has a passion for creative expression. As an avid arts advocate, she is the creative director for the East Ave. Flea Market and an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance.

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