Heard is library's first maker-in-residence

Summer maker-in-residence Alex Heard is a soft sculptor and performance artist.

This summer, Heights Libraries will host a maker-in-residence program in the Heights Knowledge and Innovation Center (HKIC) STEAM Lab at the Lee Road branch. The goal of the program, funded in part by a generous grant from the Cyrus Eaton Foundation, is to showcase local makers and to engage the community in a creative space where they can learn from creative experts and participate in the creative process.

The library’s summer maker, chosen from 37 applicants, is Alex Heard. Heard is a soft sculptor and performance artist working in Cleveland. Their colorful, plush costumes explore a variety of topics both absurd and sincere. They graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2020. Heard performs in the Cleveland area, and has exhibited throughout Ohio.

“My focus lies in crafting absurd plush characters and vibrant, colorful costumes,” said Heard. “What sets my work apart is the infusion of empathy—a conscious effort to create pieces that resonate emotionally. My journey in the world of making is driven by a genuine love for pure human expression and creativity.

"Through my creations, I aim to spark joy, curiosity, and a sense of connection. I believe that in our fast-paced world, fostering creativity is essential for individual well-being and community growth.

“I find immense joy in teaching others how to sew and craft freely. Whether it's through creating whimsical plush characters or guiding individuals in their own creative style, I believe in the transformative power of hands-on creativity.”

Makers receive a stipend of $1,000 per month, for a total of $2,000, and are required to host at least two hours of public studio time per week and offer free workshops to the public during their time at the library.

“Knowledge and innovation are what the HKIC is all about,” said Derrick Mason, Heights Libraries continuing education and HKIC manager. “It was a natural progression to start a maker-in-residence program and connect with artists who understand the intersection of art and technology. We are really looking forward to seeing what Alex creates.”

Residents can meet Heard in the HKIC STEAM Lab this summer to learn more about their work and try out Heard’s soft-sculpting technique at open studio hours on Thursdays, June 13 through Aug. 8, 1–5 p.m. Heard will also teach four public programs during June and July.

The maker-in-residence this fall will be Cleveland-based Tahm Lytle, a multidisciplinary artist whose work is deeply rooted in their identities as a Black and Latine queer artist-activist. Lytle will be focused on printmaking during their time at the STEAM Lab. Lytle’s residency will run Sept. 1 through Oct. 31.

Details about Heights Libraries maker-in-residence program can be found at heightslibrary.org. The STEAM Lab is located in the HKIC Building, at 2340 Lee Road.

Sheryl Banks

Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 10:26 AM, 05.29.2024