Faces of Akron

In 2022, Summit Artspace received an Arts Resilience Initiative grant from the Ohio Arts Council to restore, document, and expand the Kings and Queens mural, created by Kirk Mangus (1952-2013), in the parking lot. The mural was restored by Mangus’ widow, internationally-acclaimed ceramicist Eva Kwong, and a new initiative led by Alexandria Couch titled Faces of Akron commissioned local artists to create portraits of Akron community members, mirroring the intent behind the original mural.

Mar 15, 2022 Artist Eva Kwong discusses the “Kings and Queens” mural, painted by her late husband Kirk Mangus (1952-2013) and 25 Summit County teens in 2006.

Mar 17, 2022 Artist Alexandria Couch introducing the Faces of Akron Project (all calls for participants have been closed)

Mural History

All of this build-up of larger projects led Summit Artspace to commission Mangus again to paint an even larger mural, this time on the 225-foot wall in their parking lot. Several grants contributed funds to the mural, including the lead grant, “Challenge America: Reaching Every Community” from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mangus had total freedom to decide the subject matter and title for the mural.

A new community-based mural initiative led by local artist Alexandria Couch, Faces of Akron, pays homage to the 2006 mural by Kirk Mangus titled Kings & Queens, pictured above, located in the Summit Artspace parking lot. Couch selected five artists to create portraits of Akron community members in their own artistic styles. The portraits will be turned into a digital mural.

Mural Restored

As a finished product, Mangus’ Kings and Queens mural documents the community in Akron that is formed by of all the cultures Akronites bring to the area. It honors the past, present, and future of cultural heritage. The subjects’ clothing links them to the culture of their family’s past, while each individual’s face represents the present, and the future is a hope that the portrait subjects will bring their children and grandchildren to see it. Kings and Queens ultimately preserves the cultural heritage of the Akron community. 
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