Artist Spotlight – Ivana Medukic

It’s no secret that the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District is experiencing rebirth with the hustle and bustle of artistic energy. Exciting projects are underway, and neighborhood artists are seizing on the energy and helping to push it along. Ivana Medukic, a multidisciplinary artist living and working in the neighborhood, is certainly no exception.

“There is a lot of excitement in the neighborhood right now, from the residents to the business owners, and I see it in the visitors,” shares Ivana.

“It seems like everyone wants to contribute their energy to the neighborhood in some way.  It’s nice to feel connected to the community and like we are all part of something that is evolving and growing.  It’s exciting.”

Ivana has long ties to the North Shore Collinwood neighborhood – and long ties to the power of the arts. She moved to the United States from Bosnia at a very young age and grew up in the Cleveland area. Waterloo’s Croatian Home (now the Beachland Ballroom) was a frequently visited place during her childhood. Her interest in creating goes back as far as she can remember, with memories that include obsessing over winning coloring contests in grade school to paying close attention to her mother’s sewing techniques.

Over the years, she explored a wide variety of potential career paths, from German translation to wanting to open up a bakery. But her interest in the arts was always present in the back of her mind and present in her school career. In North Shore Collinwood, Ivana has found the perfect place for taking that interest to an extraordinary new level.

After living in New York City for a number of years, she relocated back to Cleveland along with her husband, where they took an immediate interest in the neighborhood that was her old stomping ground. It wasn’t long before they had found a house just a short walk from the main stretch of the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District, a place to call home while Ivana worked to complete a BA in Fine Arts.

From this base in North Shore Collinwood, Ivana has launched Project Pop-up Galleries, an effort to breathe life into vacant and underutilized space through a wide range of artistic media, including photography, drawing, sculpture and fiber arts. Project Pop-up Galleries works to provide artists with an unconventional space to exhibit their work and to develop a community of emerging artists.

Since 2010, Ivana and her artist collaborators have activated vacant storefronts, lots and even stretches of North Shore Collinwood’s lakefront parks through a number of creative interventions. More recently, funding from our Artists in Residence and Collinwood Rising programs are helping Project Pop-up Galleries take on even more projects and provide even more artists with the resources to do community-engaged work.

“The grant programs made it possible for me to carry out the projects that are currently under way,” she notes.

“Without the funding, these projects would be impossible to do. I am so grateful for the opportunities to carry out these ideas, and I have learned so much in the process.”

Recent examples of that work include a large-scale competition that allowed the public to vote for their favorite art projects in underutilized storefronts; an artist studio residency pilot program; Phone Gallery, which involves a conversion of an abandoned phone booth into a functional outdoor gallery space; and an outdoor family movie series utilizing vacant lots in the neighborhood.

Ivana’s interest in addressing community issues like vacancy also extends to another passion: raising awareness of Lake Erie’s water quality and the cumulative plastic found on its shores. She recently teamed with the Euclid Beach Adopt-a-Beach Team to host an exhibit of photography titled Beached at Waterloo Studios. Plastic collected during one of the group’s clean-ups will also be used to create a publicly displayed collage.

Opposite her tremendous artistic practice, Ivana also has a great deal of passion for her neighborhood, a place where she encourages other artists to come and check out. She recommends that artists check out neighborhood staples like Arts Collinwood, Waterloo Studios, the Miller Schneider Gallery and the Beachland Ballroom and to reach out to Northeast Shores about housing options. Perhaps most importantly, Ivana shares, artists should come explore, chat with people in the community and experience the energy. It is this energy that is the driver for her passion for Collinwood.

“It feels wonderful to be part of the community. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. It just feels right.”

Please visit Project Pop-up Galleries’ Facebook page for more information about these projects and upcoming events. And don’t forget to click on the “Like” button!