MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged:’ moCa’s First Series Of Exhibitions In 2022 Center On The Exploration of Identity, Disenfranchise-ment, And Surrendering To Evolution!


On mission, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) continues to amplify a diversity of creative voices within its Winter/Spring 2022 season, wherein moCa unveils eight new solo exhibitions and collaborative projects. The public is invited to experience a variety of immersive experiences now through June 5th. The presentations reinforce the importance of sharing the love of art through collaboration and advancing the practice of artists within marginalized communities. Among the artists featured this season are Jerome AB, J.J. Adams, Robert Banks, Dexter Davis, Amber N. Ford, Aram Han Sifuentes, Ryan Harris (presented by MCHA), Dana Oldfather, and Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo). MCHA will present additional exhibitions during this season.

“We are excited to help empower and amplify the work of these artists, whose practices enrich the dimensions of our evolving, unfolding new world. moCa continues to serve as a hub for artistic perspectives and innovative collaborations that advance the work of change agents like those featured this season,” notes Megan Lykins Reich, moCa’s Kohl Executive Director.

moCa awarded the second Toby’s Prize to Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo), whose project reinforces the power of collaboration, commitment to supporting trans rights, and the artist’s deliberate evolution of her practice as a conceptual model for future work. Toby’s Prize is a biennial award named after philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis, one of moCa’s long-standing Board members. Over a ten-year period, this prize aims to expand the reach and artistic practices of five emerging artists at the forefront of contemporary art. Toby’s Prize includes the commissioning of new work, a publication, and a solo exhibition at moCa Cleveland.

Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo) is the first to share the Toby’s Prize experience, inviting artists Jerome AB and J.J. Adams to create new works for two simultaneous solo exhibitions. Her project at moCa also includes the development of a new film and the creation of her first publication, published in collaboration with Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Canada, and Kunsthaus Glarus in Switzerland.

Jerome AB’s At Once Terrifying and Equally Freeing (2021) mixed-media installation encompasses new video and a slow-building ambient score featuring artists and musicians Eartheater and Jasminfire that takes audiences on a meditative journey. The exhibition centers on a twelve foot-high metal enclosure, an artifact with unaccounted provenance that operates like a time capsule containing a three-dimensional video file attempting to relay a psychological unraveling captured in time, as best as the corrupted file can. At Once Terrifying and Equally Freeing explores the existence of two seemingly opposing truths that can co-exist as one reality, emphasizing what it means to relinquish control and to find courage in faith.

Deepening the collective impact, Toby’s Prize also presents artist J.J. Adams’s first solo exhibition, Flowers In Temporary Hands, a collection of work which explores the role that privilege and race play in the assemblage of any one identity. With four distinct iterations—an artist book, video performance, sound work, and sculptural installation—Flowers In Temporary Hands abstractly layers images as language, culling from a steeply personal and concealed memory. This striking but not uncommon portrait of a Black boy whose narrative of self has been mostly shaped by their white mother reminds us that identity, just like history, is both contingent and incomplete.

Amber N. Ford is moCa’s new Artist-in-Residence (AIR). Working primarily in portraiture, Ford examines race and identity through, as she describes, a “collaborative engagement between photographer and sitter.” On this residency, Ford reflects, “My goal is to explore, experiment, and push the boundaries of both how I make and display work. This residency will give me both the time and space to continue to make with a purpose.” Developed to support and highlight the work of emerging or early-career artists in Cuyahoga County, moCa AIR connects artists and museum through 5-month, long-form onsite engagements. Artists-in-residence receive an honorarium, program resources, a dedicated studio space inside the museum, professional development and administrative support, and production funds and support for the development of a site-specific project.  


Luminous and dreamlike, Dana Oldfather’s paintings portray the breadth and complexity of human experience. Flyfall (2022), is a site-responsive drawing for moCa’s Kohl Atrium that portrays a series of female characters rolling and intertwined with a flock of Canadian geese. Rising up the three-story wall, the hybrid creatures appear to be simultaneously flying and falling. Both resilient and defeated, free and tethered, the figures capture the inherent tension of “fight or flight”—the term for our automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as mentally or physically frightening, the response that prepares us to fight or flee. 

Focusing on immigrant and disenfranchised communities, Aram Han Sifuentes is a fiber, social practice, and performance artist who creates multiethnic, intergenerational skill-sharing experiences such as sewing workshops that can become places for empowerment, subversion, and protest. She developed her new moCa exhibition, Who Was This Built to Protect? over the course of a long-term, long-distance moCa artist residency starting in January 2020. Messages to Authorities (Go Away!) (2021) are six large-scale red silk curtains with white text that span the museum’s Gund Commons, portraying the “Know Your Rights” Red Cards created by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center with language that outlines the rights and protections held by all people under the U.S. Constitution, regardless of immigration status. Underscoring how language can act as a barrier to citizenship, this work is in dialogue with a selection of U.S. Citizenship Test Samplers (2014-ongoing), needlework samplers of U.S. naturalization test questions and answers made by U.S. non-citizens during artist-facilitated workshops, and an interactive citizenship test installation presented in multiple languages on moCa’s Kohl Monumental Staircase and inside its elevator. 

The Museum of Creative Human Art, moCa’s institutional residency partner, presents photographer Ryan Harris’s third solo exhibition, Sincerely, Us. Bringing together new and older works, this exhibition captures various nuances of the black experience. Harris uses imagery to share his story with audiences, from the beginning of his photographic journey through the present. Ryan Harris is a self-taught photographer from Cleveland, Ohio whose love of photography began in 11th grade. He has been published in numerous publications including Cleveland’s Scene Magazine, The Akron Beacon Journal, and People Magazine.

About the artists:

Jerome AB is a multidisciplinary artist and creative director based in Los Angeles, CA. Trained as an architect actualized through dance, his work is a translation of movement architecture and spatial choreography. AB’s performance pieces, films, installations, and sonic sculptures are all rooted in creating worlds that represent physical manifestations of psychological landscapes. Reoccurring motifs of exploration include queer futures, ancestral connection, healthy masculinity, and the occasional internet purge. AB has created work for and alongside artists such as Blood Orange, Bobbi Salvor Menuez, Kanye West, Caroline Polachek, Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo), poet Precious Okoyomon, photographers Paul Sepuya and Michael Bailey-Gates, filmmaker Alima Lee, and Brooklyn-based dance duo FlucT. His work has been featured at institutions such as MoMA PS1, LACMA, National Sawdust, Knockdown Center, Navel, and Lever House as commissioned by Performa.

J.J. Adams is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Adams’s practice is rooted in the examination of the transitional passages of self-acceptance, belonging, and image over time. With a background in performance, still life photography, and commercial set design, Adams uses the archive, the object, and the portrait as form. Adams’s work lays bare the complication inherent in identity, emphasizing the poignant resilience and fugue in image/world-making.


Jerome AB’s At Once Terrifying and Equally Freeing and J.J. Adams’s Flowers in Temporary Hands is organized by Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo) as part of Toby’s Prize, a biennial award made possible by Toby Devan Lewis. 

Aram Han Sifuentes is a fiber, social practice, and performance artist who works to claim spaces for immigrant and disenfranchised communities. Her work often revolves around skill sharing, specifically sewing techniques, to create multiethnic and intergenerational sewing circles, which become a place for empowerment, subversion and protest. Han Sifuentes earned her B.A. in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.F.A. in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been a recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, Map Fund, Asian Cultural Council’s Individual Fellowship, 3Arts Award, and 3Arts Next Level/Spare Room Award. Her project, Protest Banner Lending Library, was a finalist for the Beazley Design Awards at the Design Museum in London in 2016. The artist’s work has been exhibited at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Asian Arts Initiative, Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum, and the Design Museum. Aram is the inaugural artist in moCa’s Getting to Know You residency and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Major support for Who Was This Built To Protect? is provided by Joanne Cohen & Morris Wheeler.

Amber N. Ford is an artist based in Cleveland, OH. She received her BFA in Photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art (2016). Interested in race, and identity, she is best known for her work in portraiture, which she considers a collaborative engagement between photographer and sitter. Her work was shown at ThirdSpace Action Lab as a part of Imagine Otherwise, and has been featured in exhibitions at Kent State University, Transformer Station, SPACES Gallery, The Morgan Conservatory, The Cleveland Print Room, Zygote Press, and Waterloo Arts, as well as in outdoor public spaces on the Capitol Theatre Building located at the corner of Detroit and West 65th. Recent awards include Gordon Square Arts District Artist-In-Residence (2019) and the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2017). Find out more about Amber N. Ford at

The AIR program is generously sponsored by Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, with additional support from Char and Chuck Fowler. 

Dana Oldfather currently works and lives just outside Cleveland, Ohio. Her work has been presented at the Library Street Collective, Detroit, MI; Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL; Kathryn Markel Fine Art, New York, NY; Red Arrow Gallery, Nashville, TN; The Bonfoey Gallery, Cleveland, OH; Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Cleveland, OH; The McDonough Museum of Art, Youngstown, OH; The Carnegie Center for Art and History, New Albany, IN; and the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. She is the recipient of the William and Dorothy Yeck Award for Young Painters, two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, and a Satellite Fund Emergency Relief Grant from SPACES Gallery, The Warhol Foundation, and The Cleveland Foundation. Her work has been published in Beautiful/Decay, ArtMaze Magazine, and The Art of Spray by Lori Zimmer.

Major support for Flyfall is provided by Joanne Cohen & Morris Wheeler.

Ryan Harris is a self-taught photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for photography began in 11th grade when he took his first and only course on the basics of photography and 35mm film. Harris is an established entrepreneur with an accomplished roster of photography clients. His work has been published in numerous publications including Cleveland’s Scene Magazine, The Akron Beacon Journal, and People Magazine. Ryan captures what feeds his spirit creatively. His passion for documenting the rawness in urban decay and beauty within the Black experience is unwavering. To learn more about Ryan Harris visit

About moCa Cleveland:

For more than 50 years, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) has played a vital role in the city’s cultural landscape. A Midwestern, non-collecting contemporary art hub, moCa is a conduit and catalyst for creativity and inspiration, offering exhibitions and programs that provide public value and make meaning of the art and ideas of our time.

Since its founding in 1968, moCa has presented the works of more than three thousand artists, often through artists’ first solo shows. Soon after its founding, moCa was the first in the region to exhibit the works of many vanguard artists such as Laurie Anderson, Christo, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Adrian Piper, and Andy Warhol. Recent artist commissions and solo exhibitions include work by Tauba Auerbach, Xavier Cha, Simon Denny, Aleksandra Domanović, Michelle Grabner, Byron Kim, Ragnar Kjartansson, Tony Lewis, Kirk Mangus, Catherine Opie, Adam Pendleton, Sondra Perry, Joyce J. Scott, Do Ho Suh, and Liu Wei, among many others. 

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moCa Cleveland is provided institutional support in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, an anonymous donor, the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, the Leonard Krieger Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Foundation, and the continuing support of the museum’s Board of Directors, patrons, and members. 

All current moCa Cleveland exhibitions are funded by Leadership Circle gifts from an anonymous donor, Yuval Brisker, Joanne Cohen & Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen & Kevin Rahilly, Grosvie & Charlie Cooley, Becky Dunn, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Jan Lewis, and Toby Devan Lewis.