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Cleveland's Mr. Soul Inspires Future Visual Artists

Posted August 25, 2023 in News Items

CLEVELAND — Kevin Harp is a multidisciplinary visual artist known as Mr. Soul, whose work has been felt worldwide. But that impact began at an early age at Grace Mount Elementary School here in Cleveland.

“I've always been into art since as early as the first grade," Mr. Soul recalled. That was my inspiration on into high school when I was able to meet SANO, who at the time was the legend that you wanted to meet if you was into graffiti culture in Cleveland. And eventually SANO took myself and a few other artists under his wing.”

And that mentorship helped develop Mr. Soul into a more confident artist. After graduating from John Marshall High School, he attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and ultimately began a career in Atlanta.

“I was able to work with some of my idols, like Organized Noize. We discovered Outkast. I did the official logo for the Dungeon Family,” he explained.

After working with the collective that included future Grammy winners like CeeLo Green and Future, Mr. Soul then collaborated with the iconic City of Ink Tattoo Shop on their yearly art shows. But his return to Cleveland marked a shift.

“I came back because I lost my father unexpectedly, and then I was disconnected abruptly from 20-year-old cultural relationships, friendships. I ended up meeting a variety of different people along the journey back here will have helped me realize what Cleveland could look like,” he said.

And the fruit of these connections led to him mixing his experiences with his hope for Cleveland artists with the Deep Roots Experience art gallery in the Fairfax neighborhood.

“[This] is an art gallery that was founded and started by my friend David Ramsey. In five years, we have created a scene that looks like from Marc Cell, what it looked like when Atlanta started.”

But the job's not done there. As Mr. Soul explained, he is also completing a campaign of murals throughout Cleveland neighborhoods with a special focus on the next generation.

“The name of the campaign or the project is Inspire Your City. The theme of the project is literacy, so all of the murals will feature children with books in some capacity.”

Featuring young people from selected neighborhoods, the series is geared to do just what Mr. Soul said, inspire the city.

Cleveland is one of the greatest canvases I've ever seen. There's so many buildings, so many walls, so many opportunities to good art on,” he explained. “Murals to me, are probably one of my most powerful tools to speak. How that work is interpreted so many different ways, but knowing at the root of it, it inspires.”

Read the full article from WKYC - Channel 3 Here: https://bit.ly/461Y4N1