League Fellows: Katie Beck, Dray Evans, Megan Shane, and David Swirsky
Katie Beck is a director, writer, actor, and teaching artist based in NorthEast Ohio. She is the artistic director of Gum-Dip Theatre, a community-based theatre company that creates plays for, with, and about the Rust Belt. She is an Akron native and graduated from Allegheny College with a BA in Theatre and Values, Ethics, and Social Action. Katie is a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge winner for her project called “Nepali Applause: an open air market/performance festival,” which is a multilingual variety show that will be produced in North Hill, Akron in spring 2017. She took two years of ballet as a child so now she considers herself a professional dancer. She loves black olives, furry cats, and everything Akron. The only cheese she likes is in jokes.
Dray “10” Evans
Dray Evans fell in love with art in the second grade, drawing stick figure army men. His childhood love became a sincere passion as he entered high school and began strengthening his artistic abilities. Some of his accomplishments during that time include designing his eighth grade and senior year class yearbooks, which won him awards for best artist. Dray also possessed athletic talents playing linebacker on the football team and wrestling. Upon graduation he attended Virginia Marti College of Art and Design where he studied Digital Media. Dray’s education afforded him the opportunity to learn how to do 3-D animation, camera work, and editing. These skills lead to professional opportunities like shooting documentaries and videos for fundraisers, leading to getting his name in an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Since college Dray has spent his time making music videos, tattooing, airbrushing pictures and clothing, and created his own clothing line (Greatness). His most recent accomplishment is the creation of his first independent film titled, “100 Miles”. When Dray is not creating artistic masterpieces or spreading positivity through his community involvement efforts (BMe, BluTanq and iPush Movement), he is spending time with his three beautiful children and pouring as much positivity into his life to ensure his own level of happiness.
Megan Louise Shane
Megan Louise Shane is a maker of things, an enthusiast of local culture, and a reveler in all forms of art, craft, and play. She's a native of Akron and a working artist, specializing in metal sculpture. Megan draws her inspiration from nature and the industrial strength of the rust-belt city she's from. Utilizing the resources around her, she gravitates towards finding creative ways to recycle scrap metals and discarded bits into new, inventive sculpture.
Megan has a great appreciation for the blossoming local art scene’s many galleries and festivals to showcase her work. With a love for creating and working with her hands, she’s found her fabrication skills to be most helpful in many interventions. Megan also has a deep affinity for hammocks, dogs, and hikes. She’s convinced she may be completely right brained and despises writing about herself. As a co-captain of the Akron chapter for the last two years, the connections to new communities are what fuel her fire and push her forward. Megan hopes to use art to move people toward a more empathetic existence in the disconnected world around us."
With a love of service, faith in human ingenuity and never-ending curiosity, David finds himself continuously stepping into roles that have community building at the heart of the mission. In his final two years of undergrad at the University of Akron, he founded the Akron chapter as a co-captain, the Big Love Network as a co-organizer, was selected by 880 Cities to participate in the Emerging City Champions Studio, and worked with Hunter on 500 Plates.
Shortly following his graduation in December 2015, David started a full time position at Rebuilding Together Northeast Ohio, a non-profit that provides home repairs to low-income homeowners, as an AmeriCorps Community Partner Coordinator. He’s thinking about going to grad school for urban planning, but doesn’t want to admit that he’s actually aging. And of course, he is continuously surrounded by an amazing team and is getting used to writing "co" in front of most of his titles. He strives to live by a servant leadership model and is incredibly excited to build a more connected and creative community in Akron with the new fellows.
The Akron, Ohio chapter created the main art installations for Better Block, a project activating vacant buildings in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.
Big Love Fest
The League chapter has been an integral partner in organizing this annual festival which is celebrates the greater Akron community. They help curate the event and create art installations to encourage participants to learn more about local community organizations, all within a zero waste and family friendly atmosphere.
Press: Knight Foundation Blog
To celebrate the theme of Gratitude, the Akron League chapter set up several interventions. The first involved a soapbox and homemade duct tape megaphones, as the League chapter asked passersby to share what they are grateful for. They also collected stories of what people are grateful for via social media and then projected that text on downtown buildings. Photos by Eartha Goodwin.
Press: Knight Foundation Blog