Artist Mark Howard discusses his personal background and career, including his family and art education. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Howard realized he had artistic abilities as a young child. With early encouragement from his mother, Howard pursued his interests in drawing and had an "insatiable" demand for paper and art supplies. Although his early education did not provide arts programs, his teachers continued to encourage his abilities. Howard moved to Cleveland in 1981 and enrolled at the Cleveland Institute of Art. While taking classes, several artists including Julian Stanczak, Wanda von Wiess and Ed Michkowski influenced Howard. After graduating in 1986, Howard decided to remain in Cleveland. He created art work using several mediums including painting, silk screens, and paper cut-outs. Much of Howard's work maintained a black sensibility and urban theme, using life in the streets as his primary influence. Recently, Howard designed public art for Cleveland's Euclid Corridor Transportation Project. Howard's public art includes tree grates featuring textile designs of Native American Wampum belts and decorative trash cans using laser-cut steel to create symbols that "make no sense" since Euclid Avenue is supposed to be a "smart street."
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The first generations of African American artists who were active in the Cleveland region were showcased in the 1993 exhibition Yet Still We Rise: African American Artists in Cleveland 1930-1970. In 2005, a second exhibition was organized by Cleveland Artists Foundation (ARTneo). In addition to gallery shows, this exhibit – titled Each in Their Own Voice: African American Artists in Cleveland, 1970-2005 – documented subsequent generations of African American artists through oral history…