“Once the refugee community comes here, they have to worry about a job and a place to live, but no one taps into their artistic passion to help free their soul. I saw that they had so much to share and no place to share it.”
— GADI ZAMIR
When Gadi Zamir came to Cleveland from Israel 18 years ago, he created art in his basement between time spent working as a maintenance man and earning his degree. “I didn’t have a social life, but through my art, I met people,” he says. “It brought a lot of good people into my life.”
Gadi won a Creative Workforce Fellowship in 2013. He used the support to expand the Negative Space Gallery and give opportunities to others. Currently the gallery receives a Project Support grant for “Art is My Refuge,” which gives a voice to the region’s immigrant population and supports exhibits of their works. “They’ve been through a lot,” Gadi says. “They’ve been exposed to violence. They come from different cultures. I saw that they had so much to share and no place to share it.”
Art is My Refuge artists have been showcased at Cleveland Public Library, Ingenuity Festival, and Brite Winter. “As an artist and a nonprofit, it’s hard to get funding to pay the bills,” Gadi says. “CAC provides stability so artists can create programming that keeps us operational and connects with the community.”
Rich McClellan, Negative Space board president, says: “Art is My Refuge has given us the opportunity to engage a wonderful but underserved population in a common language that all humans share.”
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