Danny Ratcliff’s painting of family members dressed in their Sunday’s best as they gather around a Black matriarch on a green lawn brings a level of peace and comfort not normally felt inside the Summit County Courthouse — and that’s exactly what Curated Courthouse aims to do.
“Our mission was to give people an opportunity to step out of themselves, for just a second,” says Judge Elinore Stormer of Summit County Probate Court.
The new program is a result of a collaboration with Curated Storefront, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming abandoned and often overlooked buildings with publicly accessible art installations. By creating a gallery inside the courthouse that features local artists, the hope is to alleviate some of the stress associated with being in court.
“There’s a better life. There’s opportunity,” says Stormer. “You don’t have to be constrained by what your current circumstances are.”
Ratcliff’s work, which will be on display through June 1, pulls inspiration from family and connection with pieces like “We Family Love” that are bright and colorful. That piece is even a permanent addition to the court’s art collection thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundations’ Knight Arts Challenge. For Stormer, Ratcliff’s paintings are like windows, providing an escape for those who are troubled or overwhelmed, and they serve to represent the residents of Summit County.
“If you walked through the courthouse before, mostly what you see are pictures of white men and that doesn’t represent our community or country,” says Stormer. “There’s so much love in the paintings. You cannot help but feel it when you look at his work. And boy, don’t we need that now.”