Cleveland Arts Prize announces 2023 award winners

The Cleveland Arts Prize announced on Monday, Aug. 7 that nine recipients have received the organization’s 2023 Arts Prize awards, recognizing exceptional achievements and contributions in various artistic disciplines.

The winners have had a profound impact on the arts community and society through their dedication and creative brilliance. Celebrating its 63rd year of honoring artistic excellence, Cleveland Arts Prize is one of the oldest and most esteemed arts awards in the United States.

The 2023 recipients were selected by a jury of experts, previous laureates, and prominent figures in the arts and culture community.

"We are pleased to recognize and celebrate the remarkable achievements of these artists, whose creativity and dedication have enriched our lives and transformed the cultural landscape," Cleveland Arts Prize board chair Aseelah Shareef said in a statement. "Their work reminds us of the power of art to inspire, provoke thought and foster connection. We congratulate the winners for their exceptional contributions and invite the community to join us in celebrating their success and impact in October.”

The awards will be presented during the annual swards event on Thursday, Oct. 26 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The 2023 Cleveland Arts Prize award winners are:

Emerging Artists

Stephanie GineseStephanie GineseStephanie Ginese, Literature

An author, instructor, and stand-up comedian from South Lorain, Ginese has been published in zines, journals, and anthologies throughout the country and has been a contributor for multiple digital Latinx platforms.

Ginese’s work has been featured in publications such as Las Palabritas Journal at Harvard University, The Pinch Journal at the University of Memphis, Homology Lit, Wax Nine Journal, and Cleveland Review of Books.

Her debut collection of poetry, Unto Dogs, in July 2022 and focuses on themes of Puerto Rican nationalism, history, reproductive violence, and spirituality.

Ginese has a B.A. in literature from Cleveland State University and an A.A. in creative writing from Cuyahoga Community College.

Atefeh Farajolahzadeh, Visual Art

Iran-born Farajolahzadeh employs photography, video, and coding-involved installations in her practice. Her current works explore the idea of being elsewhere and the psychology of being in-between (the place of origin and her new place).

Farajolahzadeh’s work is driven by personal experiences as an immigrant, facing the state of suspension between her current home and her country of origin and through abstraction and representation, fiction and nonfiction.

Her work was shown in SPACES, Ohio University Art Galleries, through an Akron Soul Train residency, and at Hyde Park Art Center’s biennial exhibition in Chicago.

She teaches as an adjunct professor in the film & media arts department at Cuyahoga Community College.

Mid-career Artists

Dana JessenDana JessenDana Jessen, Music

Hailed as a “bassoon virtuoso” by Chicago Reader, Jessen is in high demand as a soloist, chamber musician, improviser, and new music specialist who is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a Huygens Fellowship.

She has presented dozens of world premiere performances throughout North America and Europe with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Dal Niente, Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Orchestra, S.E.M. Ensemble, and the Amsterdam Contemporary Ensemble. She is associate professor of contemporary music and improvisation at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Jessen holds a M.M. in bassoon performance from New England Conservatory of Music and a M.M. in New Dutch Swing from the Artez Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in the Netherlands.

Dr. Jacinda N. Walker, Design

Walker is celebrated for her design, diversity, research, and strategy work. She is the

founder and creative director of designExplorr, a social impact organization with a mission that addresses the diversity gap within the design profession by exposing design education to African American and Latino youth and raising awareness for corporate organizations.

She has led design thinking and community design workshops for numerous organizations and AIGA chapters.

Walker earned a B.F.A in graphic design from the University of Akron and an M.F.A. in design research & development from The Ohio State University. In 2022 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Ringling College of Art and Design.

Lifetime Achievement

Janet MacoskaJanet MacoskaJanet Macoska, Visual Art

Since 1974, Macoska has been capturing rock music’s greatest on film and now digitally. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Jazz Times, People, Vogue, American Photo, Classic Rock, 16, Sports Illustrated, New York Times, London Times, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Her works is in permanent collections at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Grammy Museum.

VH1, Bravo, A&E, and the BBC regularly use her work in their rockumentaries. Artists who have used her images for their albums include David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Devo, Heart, AC/DC, and The Kinks.

Special Prize Winners

Susan Braham Koletsky, Robert P. Bergman Prize

Over her 25-year tenure as the museum director of The Temple-Tifereth Israel, Braham Koletsky

has brought to bear her considerable talents as an artist, educator, and advocate. She has brought a relatively unknown collection of Judaica to a position of prominence within the North American Jewish Art realm.

Braham Koletsky has engaged both Jews and non-Jews in robust conversations about Judaism, anti-Semitism and social responsibility. Her vitality and energy have fueled her personal vision that art, as a tool to educate, can enrich our understanding of our world, inspire us to create art, and benefit the wellbeing of our community.

Richard S. RogersRichard S. RogersRichard S. Rogers, Martha Joseph Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts

An exemplar of civic leadership, compassion and unwavering dedication, Rogers is a driving cultural force in Akron. Among his many artistic achievements are his collections of contemporary ceramics from Asia and the U.S., and 20th Century American and European design.

Rogers’ most significant achievement is his creation in 2017 of Curated Storefront, a non-profit

dedicated to transforming downtown Akron into a more vibrant community through the arts.

Rogers won a Knight Arts Challenge grant to activate vacant storefronts in downtown Akron with art displays. He has played a pivotal role in shaping the city's development, growth, and inclusivity and his vision will continue to inspire generations to come.

Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley, Barbara S. Robinson Prize for the Advancement of the Arts

As advocates for arts, culture, education, and collaboration, Joseph and Nancy Keithley serve as a testament to the power of philanthropy to shape and elevate a community’s cultural soul.

In 2020 their gift to the Cleveland Museum of Art of 114 works of art, worth $100 million, served as a catalyst to elevate the museum's impact and accessibility.

In 2013 they established the Nancy and Joseph Keithley Institute for Art History at Case Western Reserve University, which not only provided additional resources to support curatorial and art scholarly education, it also advanced inclusive initiatives, artistic exploration, and community engagement for nearly all University Circle institutions.

Joseph and Nancy Keithley stand as pillars of support within Cleveland's thriving artistic landscape. Their legacy will forever be intertwined with the region’s artistic renaissance.