© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Meet Artist Alexandria Couch, Creator Of Mural In Cleveland's Public Square

"Where We Meet In The Middle" is a mural by Alexandria Couch on the back of the restaurant REBOL in Cleveland's Public Square. [Bob Perkoski]
Mural depicting two people whose braids interweave into a heart.

If you’ve walked through Cleveland’s Public Square recently, you probably noticed the latest mural on the back of the restaurant REBOL “Where We Meet In The Middle” by Akron native Alexandria Couch.

The piece centers on braids that interweave into a heart at the middle of the mural. The bright yellow background is filled with white linework that contrasts the details in the faces and hair of the people pictured, who look in distant directions at either side of the piece.

Much of Couch’s work is personal, and this piece is no exception. The mural was commissioned and funded by LAND Studio, and Couch’s inspiration for it came from the celebration of self-expression as it relates to Black culture and heritage, especially about hair.

“As somebody who is a member of the African Diaspora, you kind of feel out of touch with your heritage and your culture at some points,” Couch said. “You don’t really know where you came from, but I think the idea that through art, you can meet in the middle, and through self-expression, your fashion, your hairstyle.”

Although her works have personal meaning, Couch said one of the coolest parts about creating public art is seeing how other people interact with it.

“People will tell me stuff about my art that I didn’t even know,” she said.

Coming to accept these vast interpretations was, at times, a frustrating process, Couch said.

But a concept she continues to explore in her current projects is the use of semiotics, which dictionary.com defines as “the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior.”

Couch pointed out that there’s a tendency to boil Black artists’ work down to political messages about Black history or identity, but the reality of her experiences and works is much broader.

“I like putting different signs and symbols [in my art] and trying to predict how people will react to something in order to kind of change the dialogue of the painting,” Couch said. “Or to change the trajectory of it or how it’s understood.”  

Couch said having this overarching theme in her work allows her not to be pigeonholed.

“The idea of semiotics and other theories that back it is, ‘Maybe no one will get it,’” Couch said, “But she still made it and it still means something.”

Couch graduated from the University of Akron’s Mary Schiller Myers School of Art in fall of 2020, and she is moving to New Haven, Connecticut, this month to pursue her master’s degree at Yale School of Art. While she said she is looking forward to getting started there, she will miss her community and supportive, artistic family at home in Akron.

“I can’t wait to share things that I’m making or that I will be making while I’m there with people back at home,” Couch said. “And to bring some of those resources home, too."






View this post on Instagram












A post shared by Ideastream Public Media (@ideastreamneo)