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Release Date: May 18,2023

Community Reception for The Roots of Rubber STEM Plaza Rejuvenation

May 16, 2023 - Akron, Ohio — On Friday, May 19, 2023, beginning at 3:30 pm, Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) will present a community celebration to commemorate the rejuvenation of the Roots of Rubber art installation on the NIHF STEM Plaza. The celebration will also be a sendoff for Boa Mistura, the Spanish art collective who created the work in 2019 and has returned to Akron for two weeks to create a new mural on the High Street Parking Deck (in place of the Never Turn Back installation) and work with STEM learners to add a fresh coat of paint, and sharper geometric lines to the plaza.

The celebration will include music, yard games, and a chance to meet the artists behind this iconic downtown Akron art installation.

The Roots of Rubber

The Roots of Rubber was commissioned in 2019 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the NIHF STEM Middle School, and the site was chosen as an excellent opportunity to celebrate the school, engage the learners, and begin enacting recommendations from Gehl Studio, who conducted a study with Knight Foundation support that called for improved public spaces using art, light, and activity.

The concept design for the plaza’s installation was inspired by the geometry resulting from the cuts on the bark of trees during rubber extraction and is completed with a line from Akron native Rita Dove’s poem, “Dawn Revisited.” Three-dimensional towers emerge from some of the shapes on the plaza, creating a maze that invites people to walk through, explore, and view the work from multiple angles.

The mural is one of a series of space-lift projects enacted downtown through a partnership between DAP and Knight Foundation. Other projects in the series include the Northside Green, the North High Parklet, and the Art Bomb Brigade mural.

Boa Mistura

Boa Mistura is a Madrid-based multidisciplinary art collective established in 2001 with roots in graffiti. They travel the world making art in public space and have large-scale works in cities across the globe. They were selected to create a mural on the STEM Plaza based on the team’s expertise with large-scale, dynamic installations, the level of community engagement involved, and a unique anamorphosis technique that incorporates science and math principles into the work.

Before returning to Akron this month, Boa Mistura most recently completed projects in Miami, FL, and Fort de France, Martinique.

Their work in Akron is supported by Knight Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Akron Community Foundation, GAR Foundation, the City of Akron, Akron Public Schools, and NIHF STEM Middle School.