Nina Freedlander Gibans attended Wellesley College, an important base from which to finish at Sarah Lawrence College where she became editor of the newspaper during the McCarthy era, and concentrated on studies in art, music and literature. Her professors at the college then included William Rubin, Joseph Campbell, Horace Gregory and Alastair Reid. Her Master’s thesis for her post graduate work in Aesthetics and Art History with Thomas Munro at Case Western Reserve University was on Whitman, Eakins and Ives. The combination of these experiences laid the groundwork for her interests in aesthetic, integrated cultural and civic affairs forever. She has been an active poet throughout her life. A characteristic of all her projects is the relevant use of individual artists, multiple institutions and the community. In 2009 she was honored for her service to the arts with the Martha Joseph Citation of the Cleveland Arts Prize and for her service to the writing community on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the LIT (formerly the Poets' and Writers' League of Greater Cleveland.) See website: Cleveland Arts Prize.
Nina Freedlander Gibans’ life has been spent as an arts advocate, administrator, author and teacher as well as a community volunteer. Professional and volunteer life become integrated as these activities have focused on the Poet’s and Writer’s League of Greater Cleveland, Young Audiences of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Artists Foundation the Ohio Citizens for the Arts, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Shaker Heights Public Library and as staff at the Cleveland Area Arts Council, Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Children’s Museum. Nationally, she has served on the predecessor board of the Americans for the Arts. Poetry has been her art form since childhood. A poetry book, 18 Gardens and their Gardeners was the result of an Ohio Arts Council Artists Project award. She has published and read poetry from early childhood days including a time in San Francisco during the Beat Era, once on the same stage as Allen Ginsberg. Other books are The Community Arts Council Movement (Praeger 1982, 2nd edition by New Academia Press 2006), Bridges to Understanding Children’s Museums (Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Case Western Reserve University, 1999) and Creative Essence: Cleveland’s Sense of Place (Kent State University Press, 2005). Teaching has been extraordinarily gratifying: a course for teachers “Using the Community in Your Classroom”, a core Humanities course for non-traditional adult students, and courses on regional art. Major community-wide projects include forums for arts education and on cultural planning. Projects she has directed include “Silver Apples of the Moon”, a program and book of matching art and poetry. “Creative Essence ”examined the region’s creativity in the 20th century through 22 hours of public discussion and resulted in a video, book and a website for use in teaching about the region’s art, history,and architecture, www.clevelandartandhistory.org. She co-edited a book Cleveland Poetry Scenes: A Panorama and Anthology, published by Bottom Dog Press in 2008.
Her project Cleveland Goes Modern: Design for the Home 1930-1970 started as an exhibit for the Cleveland Artists Foundation (2007). The exhibit was honored in four ways over 2008: an award from the AIA Cleveland-Historic Resources Committee and the Cleveland Restoration Society; an invitation by national AIA to be an exemplar of projects honoring the 150th anniversary of AIA; and an award by the Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society. The AIA Ohio Convention in Akron included an exhibition in full of Cleveland Goes Modern to allow discussion with the attending architects. The presentation includes a catalog, take-home essay, resource booklet, bibliography, video program examining the life and vision of Robert Little. A website www.architectureofcleveland.com developed under a MH Jennings grant specifically so that teachers would have the resources they need to teach from this material. Www.architectureofcleveland.com accompanies this exhibit. The exhibition spawned a book by Gibans and her husband published by the Kent State University Press.
She is currently producing a film on the History, Public Art and Architecture of University Circle for community and educational use. The videographer is Jesse Epstein.
She has been the executive producer of five video programs, three of which have been shown on local public television. These include: Museums and Schools, 1988; Prejudice and its Impact on Children, 1994; Children’s Museums: Bridges to the Future, 1999 and Creative Essence: Cleveland’s Sense of Place, 2003 (Included in the Cleveland International Film Festival 2003 and inserted in the book as a DVD) all produced with the assistance of WVIZ/PBS Ideastream. Most recently she has been the executive producer of Transcending Traditions: The Story of Potter and Mellen (2005 with Storytellers Media Group) and The Story of Pepper Ridge Road: The Vision of Robert A. Little (2009 with the assistance of the Cleveland Museum of Art).
Nina Freedlander Gibans has served on many panels, boards and committees of local, state and national cultural and civic organizations. She has received a national award for arts management, individual grants for research, writing and media interpretation of arts issues and the Distinguished Alumna Award from Laurel School in 2000. Under a third Martha Holden Jennings Foundation grant she directed the development of a website on the history of the region’s poetry www.clevelandpoetryarchive.com to accompany Cleveland Poetry Scenes. The websites on regional art (www.clevelandartandhistory.org), architecture (www.architectureofcleveland.com) and poetry are developed for educational use with history, units of curriculum, glossaries, bibliographies and links to relevant websites.
She has been married to architect Jim Gibans for 55 years, a true ally in all matters. They have two sons, a doctor and a lawyer and two daughters, an educator and an organic farmer. They have four grandchildren who live coast to coast and use every way to keep in touch and visit.
Major (at Sarah Lawrence College): Art, Music and Literature; (at Case Western Reserve University), MA, Aesthetics and Art History.