KSU Hotel Gallery

The KSU Hotel Gallery is located in the lobby of the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Kent, Ohio. Exhibitions change each semester and feature artwork from the School of Art Collection. 

Location: 215 S. Depeyster St., Kent, Ohio 44240

Michael Loderstedt: Dark Waters 

Photo by Michael Loderstedt, a night scene of a large freight boat going under a bridge.

August 4 - December 6, 2020

This photographic project examines Cleveland’s relationship with its boundary waters, specifically the city’s shorelines of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. Historically, access to a plentiful supply of water for transportation and industrial needs, helped the city develop its economy at the expense of the environmental concerns for the health of the water, shoreline and sediments. The Cuyahoga River fires of the early 1970’s outraged and shamed city residents, sparking a national conversation on water quality that led to the enactment of the Clean Water Act.

Following the subsequent abandonment and relocation of much of the area’s manufacturing economy along these boundary waters, the region once again has turned its interest toward the health and recreational use of this environment. Yet access and water quality, and perhaps more importantly, the shifting public perception of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River from dumpsite to natural resource has been a slow process. Much of the bounding shoreline now has hardened edges, removing the natural filtration of the native vegetation. In addition, point source run-off from streets, bridges and parking lots carry lost automotive fluids, pet waste and non-compostable litter directly into our waterways. 

Additionally, more precipitation from a warmer climate has exacerbated these problems, creating dangerous “rain events” that push urban pollutants and raw sewage into Lake Erie with increasing frequency. These conditions elevate seasonal bacterial and algal hotspots along the shoreline during warm weather creating public health concerns for watersport recreation, and further continued alienation discouraging public advocacy for these waters. It seems the situation has created a difficult public relations situation; fewer citizens comfortable with engaging with low water quality, and diminished pubic demand for more access to river and lake shorelines. There are some recent significant signs of optimism, with new infrastructure projects to contain storm sewer run-off, and federal remediation grants for shoreline habitat restoration. 

The human body replaces much of its entire amount of fluids in about twenty or so days. The city of Cleveland gets all its municipal tap water from Lake Erie, so theoretically it’s citizens are, by and large as a group, made of Lake Erie water. Perhaps this knowledge alone should be the strongest ammunition for a collective advocacy for the health and care of our region’s boundary waters. This project examines a reflective and transformative view of these waters at night, when the artificial lights of the city animates these urban shorelines in unusual and uncanny ways. My hope is help bring awareness to this often over looked resource, as well as to draw attention to its dark beauty.