Cushmere Bell Interview, 24 December 2008

Artist Cushmere Bell describes his life and career. Raised in Cleveland, Bell knew he wanted to be an artist at an early age. An early interest in comics and a "part-time job" of drawing commissioned sports scenes from the covers of Sports Illustrated magazine for classmates typified his earliest artistic activities. After "discovering Impressionism in 12th grade," Cushmere decided to pursue a career in painting. Encouraged by teachers at Shaker Heights High School, Bell attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, graduating with a major in photography and a minor in painting. The artist discusses his experiences as a student, his personal challenges growing into adulthood, and formative moments and people in his life. He also describes his own work and influences in some detail, relating his artistic role as "a stenographer recording in hieroglyphics... [and] relics of the times." Additional subjects include graffiti in Cleveland, WRUW 91.1 (Case Western Reserve University radio station), the artist's personal mentors, and the creative process.

Participants: Bell, Cushmere (interviewee) / Thurmer, Robert (interviewer)
Collection: Each in Their Own Voice: African American Artists in Cleveland, 1970-2005
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

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Each in Their Own Voice: African American Artists in Cleveland, 1970-2005

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…