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News . Feature Stories . CIA prof brings creativity to the community in two public art commissions

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September 26, 2013

CIA prof brings creativity to the community in two public art commissions

Sarah Kabot tapped for projects at suburban library, downtown hotel.

CIA prof brings creativity to the  community in two public art commissions

By Carolyn Jack

Sarah Kabot can draw.

So what does she draw with? You know, paper and pencil. Maybe a stick of charcoal. Oh, and big sheets of aluminum, glass pieces, CAD design software and a laser operator.

In fact, for a draftswoman, Kabot makes a good sculptor – something that the Cuyahoga County Public Library is realizing in full now that her hanging, 10-panel piece, “Afterimage” has been installed in the library system’s new Garfield Heights branch on Turney Road.

Kabot, a CIA assistant professor and chair of the Drawing Department, was selected for the project from among several Northeast Ohio artists recommended for the library’s consideration by Albert Albano, executive director of the Intermuseum Conservation Association.

The brand new Garfield Heights branch, which opened Sept. 7, is part of the county library system’s $110-million Facilities Master Plan – a construction project involving three new branch buildings and four renovations – that is still under way, said Scott Morgan, the system’s operations director and fiscal officer.

A part of the budget for all three new buildings was set aside for artwork. Kabot’s creation “adds to the beauty of the building,” Morgan said, adding that he hopes it will encourage people to “linger a bit longer” at the library.

The work consists of asymmetrical, lattice-like panels – all cut from one sheet of aluminum and decorated with bits of glass – that hang from the library building’s vaulted ceiling. Kabot said she chose the materials for their light weight, so as not to put any strain on the building’s structure. The effect she has aimed to create with them is that of book pages unfolding, exploding in space, she said.

The connection to drawing may not seem obvious to casual observers, but all of her artwork deals with the relationship between two dimensions and three dimensions, Kabot said. In drawing, she constantly tries to depict three-dimensional things in the two dimensions of paper or other flat surfaces, and to make two-dimensional images appear to have three-dimensional depth.

“Afterimage” began with actual drawing. But once she had made sketches of the piece, Kabot digitized them using CAD software to create a version of the design that could be applied like a pattern to a sheet of aluminum. The metal was then hand-cut by a local laser expert.

So even though she is a traditionalist in one sense, her skill set includes much more than that. For a contemporary artist, “a breadth of knowledge is very important,” explained Kabot, who has also been tapped to create the centerpiece artwork at the new Westin Cleveland Downtown hotel, a structure which will also feature works by CIA adjunct professors Liz Maugans and Jen Craun, and alumna Anne Kibbe ’04.

“Luckily, I work at CIA, where there are lots of experts,” Kabot added. “I can bump into someone in the hallway and ask a question about a material or a tool.”

And as a professional artist, she finds that living and working in Northeast Ohio has big advantages. Opportunities such as the library commission “are ones I seek out or that happen because Northeast Ohio is very culturally rich,” she noted. “There’s an amazing fine-art community here and the community really supports the arts.”

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