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Nick Cave's HEARD Takes Over Akron

Nick Cave’s artwork has been on display for months at the Akron Art Museum, but over the weekend the artist’s wearable sculptures came to life. Performers from across the region donned the so-called sound suits made up of synthetic raffia fibers for a unique performance that mixes visual art, dance and music. 


Each sound suit is shaped like a horse and takes two dancers to fill, one in front with the horse's head and one literally making up the rear.

"It’s really hard to see. Sound is kind of muffled and you can hear the raffia, so it’s kind of like a little bit like ocean waves in your ears,"  dancer Julia Dillard said.

She danced in the rear position with her hand on her partner's hips. With the suit covering up her face for most of the performance, she and her partner used touch to communicate. 

"It’s definitely like kind of a sensory deprivation experience,” Dillard said. 


Hundreds showed up for the performances at Summit Lake Community Center and outside the Akron Art Museum.

"It is a joint offering of different mediums as far as the motion and art, as well as the color," Akron resident Lynnette Miller said. 

Cave, his choreographer Will Gill and producer Bob Faust work with local artists in each city they exhibit to bring HEARD to life.

So these performances really were Akron’s own.

Cave’s sound suits and other artwork are on display at the Akron Art Museum through June 2.

photo of Heard performance outside the Akron Art Museum
Credit Mark Arehart / WKSU
Nick Cave's team tailors site-specific performances featuring the artists wearable sculptures.

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.