When I first saw Sara Vanderbeek's print photograph of a crack in a wall from an abandoned building here in Cleveland, I was immediately transfixed on it for some reason. Maybe it was because the crack was so big and so spread out on the wall. Maybe it was just too final. Or, maybe I was sitting there wondering what was behind that crack. What building once stood there before that crack ever came? Was it an apartment building or a factory; a store or a restaurant? Were the people happy or at least content there? Were they overworked and underpaid? Were they just emotionless like that crack was? I was filled with so many questions that I admit I forgot what this particular work of Ms. Vanderbeek's was called. I will do better next time.
Many of Sara Vanderbeek's print photographs, sculptures, and other works are currently featured at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Cleveland.
Many of Ms. Vanderbeek's works have to do with her exploration of different sections of the cities of Baltimore, Detroit, and Cleveland. She likes to study and represent how cities evolve and change over time. Her works in Cleveland come from places including the Euclid Corridor, the Hough neighborhood, and then back to an abandoned factory on Carnegie Avenue. These pieces may look simple, but they are not simple to create. They are very thought-provoking and make you wonder what the past was like for the resident who walked along the Euclid Corridor or who lived in the largest, Cleveland apartment building in the Hough neighborhood long ago. How difficult or happy was life for the factory workers on Carnegie? Sometimes, you wish you could go back to that past and see what you could learn. Maybe some of those lessons would help us with today.
Sara Vanderbeek's works are on display until June 8th. For more information, please visit www.mocacleveland.org or call 216-421-8671.