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March 13, 2024

President’s Traveling Scholarship: Josh Maxwell ’13

Josh Maxwell ’13 gets to work at the Charles Herndon Gardens & Galleries on Kelleys Island. Submitted photo.

By Karen Sandstrom ’12

Josh Maxwell stepped off the ferry that had taken him to Kelleys Island in Lake Erie. Maxwell had come to work with sculptor Charles “Chuck” Herndon ’71, who has his home, gallery and a sculpture garden on the island. When he saw the masses, he figured they were waiting to catch the ferry back to the mainland.

Instead, they had come simply to welcome him. It remains a vivid memory.

“They were just excited that there was an artist committed to doing their practice out there and supporting another artist who had already committed to the island,” says Maxwell. “And the reception continued. Not full time, but there were moments when you would just be in your own head exploring the island or downtown trying to get a bite to eat, and someone who would be like, ‘What are you working on today?’”

Maxwell earned his BFA in Biomedical Art. His scholarship experience grew out of his BFA project, a temporary exhibit that highlighted the coastal ecology of Lake Erie. He first met and interned for Herndon thanks to an introduction by longtime CIA professor Barbara Stanczak ’90. Continuing his exploration of the Lake Erie coast, with Herndon as a guide, seemed like the next right move after graduating.

“I was learning the techniques of how he created his work, and then was essentially testing that out on my own work,” Maxwell says. “So it was a lot of failed tests, but I did get a couple pieces out of it at the end. And the best part about it was just being able to have that behind-the-scenes connection to Chuck.”

The experience launched him into work at the Cleveland Metroparks as an educational media assistant and, later, an interpretive experiences designer. Now Maxwell and his husband, Brendan Trewella, own Small Organization Solutions, a business management and design company that specializes in nonprofit organizations. Maxwell and Herndon still collaborate, too.

“I will bring him art supplies in early spring, and he will show me the newest boulder that he found on the beach,” he says. “And then we will go to town and create some work.”

Maxwell was recently awarded a Creative Impact Fund grant from Assembly for the Arts to establish an installation in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. It will include a Herndon sculpture, garden and mural, and is expected to open in late spring.

The benefits of the traveling scholarship on Maxwell’s career have been profound and long-lasting, he says.

“I always had the desire to do more, to see more, to be a part of more,” he says. “This opportunity led me to far-reaching corners of myself and my art practice that I did not know existed or could exist.”

Learn how other CIA alumni used their President’s Traveling Scholarships:

Amber N. Ford ’16
Andres Almy ’20
Chi (Irena) Wong ’20
Alison Alsup ’23

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