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Reshaping the Narrative

A Project telling the migration stories of Akron’s African-American families 

Akron Soul Train and the Black Artists Guild are teaming up to produce an exhibition titled “Reshaping the Narrative”.  The “Reshaping the Narrative” exhibition will show positive stories of African Americans to promote equity, empathy and empowerment for all. The exhibition will include a 30-minute film telling the stories of some of Akron’s black families who migrated here, along with large photographs and a curation of family

heirlooms.  The exhibition will be accompanied with a virtual tour and artist talk shown live on Facebook. Communicating these stories across platforms will aid in reshaping the narrative of Akron’s African Americans and how they migrated north for a better life, for their survival, and how replanting their roots helped establish family legacies. 

This project is brought to life through funds from Akron Community Foundation and the generous sponsorship of Kathleen Brennan and Claude Hendon.  AST recognizes the impact of racism that has systematically divided the arts and culture sector in Akron Ohio. This collaborative effort will provide a platform for local black artists and community leaders to address racism which was declared a public health crisis by the City of Akron.  Our virtual programming reaches hundreds of arts and culture patrons and the “Reshaping the Narrative” project will open up honest conversation on race, experiences of institutionalized inequalities and privilege. AST will display the film and exhibition November 3 - December 18, 2021 in the CapSoul Gallery.


Artists Bios:

Emerging Artist Talia Hodge is an Ohio based photographer passionate about storytelling that captures the beauty of everyday life. She received her B.A. in Photo Illustration from Kent State University and during that time was awarded the Wallace J. Hagedorn Scholarship for photography from the School of Visual Communication Design. 


Filmmaker Fred Barrett is the Emerging Media Manager at PBS Western Reserve, a freelance videographer producing and New Realm Media and a video journalist teaching multimedia techniques and visual communication design at Kent State University.  His degrees include a B.A. in journalism from the University of Memphis and an M.A. in media management from Kent State University.  He is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served in a classified communication and public relations role.

Curator Dara Harper is the Virtual and Exhibitions Coordinator at Akron Soul Train.  She is dedicated to educating children and adults through the arts. Dara Harper graduated from The University of Akron with a Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction. A Bachelor of Arts in Art Studio Emphasis; Painting and Minor in Art History. ​She is co-creator of the Akron Black Artist Guild, professional artist and native of Akron Ohio.

We should be home

Featured in the Burton D. Morgan space at Akron Soul Train is the resident work of Arron Foster, titled We should be home.  Foster’s work also explores migration. 


"As an artist I am concerned with how the physical landscapes is transformed into a cognitive one and how personal and public
spaces intersect in the stories we tell about a place and the way we choose to represent it. The consequence of this for me as an artist has been that most of the work I do whether its printmaking, book arts, video, or installation begins with a place, a site or location that becomes a jumping off point for my imagination."


"Each project or series that I undertake is arrived at through an intuitive, research-based approach to observing, studying, and documenting specific locations with the hope of creating a dialogue between myself and the viewer that provides an opportunity for the shared exploration and interpretation of places. I believe that by promoting a sense of mutual understanding and familiarity with the physical world, we can encourage empathy for the spaces we occupy
and perhaps advocate for a greater sense of stewardship and care."


He continues, “As an Appalachian transplant to Northeast Ohio, I am keenly interested in the deep connections between the two regions. Research and history have shown that throughout the 20th century, Akron, Ohio was an epicenter of Appalachian migration as large groups of both skilled and unskilled laborers poured into the region to work for the tire and rubber industries. While some of these transplants would only stay for a season, others put down roots and became established parts of the community.”


“Migration has been an important part of the Appalachian experience and reflects the conditions of a changing world. While in residence, I strove to create a body of work that graphically represents the physical and cultural landscapes of the places people left and the places they settled in.  I believe that the shared exploration and interpretation of places can encourage empathy for the spaces we occupy and perhaps foster a greater sense of stewardship and care.