Exploring social conditioning and how it defines our concepts of value, our sense of place and how it shapes our individual development are the conceptual subjects that help define my work. I favor using natural and utilitarian castoffs, along with traditional material, to visually contrast the “prized” against the discarded. The materials "identity" is stripped, cut, or broken away then it’s woven, bound or wedged together and its new "self" is formed. Creating bold sculptures and installations that adapt, acculturating new environments.
While attending the Cleveland Institute of Art I was recipient of the William McVey Award for Excellence in Sculpture. Curated my first professional solo exhibition, Rising/Bound, at Groop Gallery and was one of two students selected to finish posthumously, the last sculpture of David E. Davis, the founder of the Sculpture Center.
Today I am artist, owner and curator of my studio/gallery Studio 302 of the 78th Street Studios complex and I am a featured artist at Still- point gallery, represented by Kate and Geoff Baker. My work has been exhibited at the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve, the Sculpture Center, Cleveland State University Gallery, Spaces, and the Maltz Museum, among others. In addition, I was awarded the 2020 Ohio Arts Council ADAP Grant and the 2018 CAN Triennial Prize. My corporate commissions include an 18’ x 18’ site-specific installation on permanent exhibition at the new Hilton downtown, a site- specific installation at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and works at The Cleveland Clinic Hospital.
2007 – Present Artist and Studio Director, Cleveland, OH
Artist fabricator and director of studio gallery 302 located in the 78th Street Studios complex. Studio 302 showcases large and small-scale sculptures and installations for public and privet exhibitions, while providing collectors and art enthusiasts with a range of specialized services.
2018 – Present Art House, Inc., Teaching Artist Cleveland, OH
Art House is a non-profit arts center whose mission is to inspire exploration and expression through the visual arts. Contracted Teaching Artist provides a wide variety of artists specializing in varying media.
Contracted Arts Instructor, LEAP, Cleveland, OH
Project coordinator and arts instructor for an employment program, conscripting assistant fabricators in specialized studio workshops to emulate an on-the-job environment, developed to improve job skills and professional practices for young adults with developmental disabilities.
Contracted Arts Instructor, Famicos Foundation, Cleveland, OH
Co-coordinator for a environmental arts and urban market gardening program, and instructed classis in arts and market crafts, at The Green Scouts, Let it Bee Garden, Bluestone Circle LLC.
Contracted Teaching Artist; Building Bridges Murals, Cleveland, OH
Arts and Activism Instructor for the Tents of Hope International Collaborative teaching young adult students creative expression an activism in solidarity with the people of Darfur, Sudan.
Contracted Instructor, Euclid Adult Activity Center, Euclid, OH
Cuyahoga County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Provided ceramic instruction for clients enrolled in the Center’s Pottery Art Program; for 8 adult students with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.
Arts Assistant, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH
Provided technical support during Sculpture Summer Camps, and Reinberger Galleries Educational Outreach Programs and gallery operations for students ages 8 to 18
AWARDS / FELLOWSHIPS / GRANTS
2020 The Ohio Arts Council ADAP Grant, Columbus, OH
2018 CAN Triennial Exhibition Prize, Collective Arts Network, Lakewood, OH
2016 The Ohio Arts Council ADAP Grant, Columbus, OH
2014 Annual Artist Tribute Award, Still Point Gallery, Cleveland, OH
2010 Ingenuity Project Grant, Ingenuity Inc. Cleveland, OH
2009 Creative Workforce Fellowship, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, Cleveland, OH
2008 Window to Sculpture, Emerging Artist Exhibition Award, Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH
2019 Group Exhibition, seenUNseen, The Artist Archives of the Western Reserve, Gallery, Cleveland, OH
2018 Solo Installation Spsce, CAN Triennial Exhibition, 78th Street Studios, Cleveland, OH
2016 Solo Installation Spsce, Harmonuc, Hilton Downtown Cleveland, Opening Exhibition, Cleveland, OH
2015 Group Exhibition, The Female Perspective, the Gallery at Lakeland, OH
2014 Solo Exhibition, The Paper Tree, Cleveland Public Theater, Cleveland, OH
2012 Solo Space, EARTH, Seeds of A New Age, Full Circle, Cleveland, OH
2010 Solo Installation Space, Journey, Ingenuity, Veterans Memorial Bridge, Cleveland, OH
2009 Solo Exhibition, Adrift, Cleveland Bioneers Conference, College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland, OH
2009 Group Exhibition, The Painted Village, Darfur Refugees, Sudan, National Mall, Washington, DC
2008 Solo Exhibition, A Place To Dwell, Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH
2007 Solo Installation Space, 48 Hours of Making Art, BK Smith Gallery, Painesville, OH
2006 Group Exhibition, AfroFuturism, Spaces Gallery, Cleveland, OH
2005 Group Exhibition, Women, Community and Culture, Sandkofa, Cleveland, OH
2004 Solo Exhibition, Rising/Bound, Groop Gallery, Cleveland, OH
Corporate, Harmonic, Site-pacific Installation Hilton Downtown, Cleveland, OH
Private, Dancer, Mrs. and Mr. Bennett, Cleveland, OH
Public, Shade Tree, Carl and Louis Stokes Central Academy, and Sisters of Charity Foundation, Cleveland, OH
Public, Gathering, Green City Blue Lake, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH
Private, On The Verge, Mr. and Mrs. Strongosky, Cleveland, OH
Private, Sobriety, Mr. Bourgon donation to The Cleveland Clinic, Stella Maris, Cleveland, OH
Private Connection, Mr. Bourgon, Telluride, CO
PRESENTATIONS / WORKSHOPS
2012 Workshop, The Expressive Arts Project, West Side Catholic Center, Cleveland, OH
2011 Presentation, Next, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH
2011 Presentation, Changing Tactics, PechaKucha Night Cleveland, The House of Blues,Cleveland, OH
2009 Workshop, Cleveland Bioneers Conference, College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland, OH
Dott von Schneider “Playing In The Mud, Charmaine Spencer on Overcoming Artistic Obstacles and Channeling the Unconventional” Scene Vol. 48 Issue 46 May 17 – 23, 2017, p.30
Mark Horning “Best Up-And-Coming Visual Artists In Cleveland” cleveland.cbslocal.com April 14, 2014
Mark Keffer, “Charmaine Spencer” Around Kent, vol. 4, 2014, p. 34-45
Julie Washington, “Eclectic Perfection, Gray tones are neutral backdrop for eclectic artwork in Nancy and Dick Bennett's Cleveland Heights home” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sunday,April 27, 2014, p. C5
C.G. Baker, “Art through Dyslexia,” Still Point Gallery, November 2013, stillpoint-gallery.com/charmaine-spencer/
Elizabeth Weinstein, “Sculpting Treasures,” Neighborhood Voice, April 2011, p. 12
Michael Gill “Arts News From Around the Block and In Your Neck of the Woods” scene.com June 10, 2009
Zachary Lewis “Cleveland's Community Partnership for Arts and Culture grants fellowships” Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 5, 2009
Marge Perko, “Worth the Weight,” Scene Magazine, April 30-May 6, 2008, p.18
Fran Henry “Raising Cleveland’s Hip Quotient” Cleveland Plain Dealer,Sunday April 6, 2008, section E
Eleanor LeBeau, “David E. Davis’ Last Sculpture,” Northern Ohio Live, vol. 25, September 2004, p. 14-16
Link “Students Bring David E. Davis Sculpture to Life” Vol.3 Issue 1 March 2004 cover p.
Debra Shepard, “You Had To Be There,” Angle Journal, vol. 1 no. 05, July 2003, p. 03
Bioneers / Green City Blue Lake, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Bioneers is a nonprofit organization that promotes practical and innovative solutions to environmental and social challenges.
Neighbor Up / Neighborhood Connections, unleashing the capacity for creative solutions to issues that plague our communities. Neighbor Up is civic engagement, working to improve the quality of life in our city and make change towards a more just, equitable and inclusive Greater Cleveland.
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH
Jute rope, stained and natural wood wall lath
18 ft. x 26 ft. x 12 ft
BFA Exhibition, Cleveland Institute of Art
I originally conceived the sculpture as a two dimensional labyrinth to be built from wall lathing. After beginning the process, however, the idea to create a more abstract three dimensional labyrinth took hold. The addition of the third dimension (depth) was designed to increase the complexity of form, hopefully inspiring the viewer to think more abstractly about its meaning, especially as it relates to individuals and the potential to evolve. It was not until I started construction that I began fully to appreciate the properties of tension, for instance I realized a three-dimensional labyrinth would require construction and assembly of many smaller, independent sculptures. To me, the separate pieces represented individuals, bound in tension, tied to the fortunes of their neighbors. The labyrinth was never intended to have an entrance, exit, or solution, only a pathway to understanding our relationship with one another
Reed grass and stainless steel jewelry wire
18 ft. x 18 ft. x 3ft
Hilton Downtown, Cleveland, OH
Considered in light of its literal meaning as well as its metaphoric scope, "HARMONIC" is perfectly titled. As a harmonic, the woven reeds accumulate and transfer energy, moving inexorably in cycles (circles), intersecting, unifying but always proceeding forward. Such is the history of Cleveland and the cycles that inspire the artist - the city's natural resources providing the early foundation for its industrial society, its cultural assets attracting population and capital, and its institutional and intellectual assets further sustaining the region's transition to a new economy and future. The sky, earth (urban landscape) and water (Lake Erie) are integrated into one unified work; their harmonic cycle a powerful statement for the city's capacity for renewal.