While most downtown Mount Vernon shops were closing for the night on Monday, the Place at the Woodward was just gearing up. Christmas lights hung in the storefront windows above “The Chase,” a watercolor and pigmented ink painting by Weichen Zhao ’20.
Inside, two dozen Gund Gallery staffers, Kenyon students and professors milled about for the opening of a pop-up art show, organized by the Gund Gallery and featuring art pieces by Kenyon students.
As a Gund Gallery associate and student leader of the Gund Gallery’s operations team, Emma Garschagen ’19 returned to campus this fall with a novel task: organizing the first Gund Gallery pop-up show of student art in downtown Mount Vernon. The Gund Gallery staff had already coordinated with The Place to set dates for the event — all they needed was art. Garschagen and her fellow associates sent emails in September asking for submissions, but as the weeks passed, they only received five.
“It was a month of me being like, ‘So we’re not getting work, the show’s not gonna happen,’” Garschagen said.
Then, in the two days before the deadline, 103 pieces came in. Surprised by the influx, Garschagen organized a committee of 11 associates — none of whom submitted art — to select works for the show.
The show itself, which features 24 pieces by 15 student artists, opened Monday evening at the Place at the Woodward, an event space that took over the South Main Street storefront where Sips Coffee Shop used to be.
After such a selective process, the chosen pieces were masterfully produced and well displayed. They showcased high skill levels and a range of artistic styles, from Alec Clothier’s ’20 four-page, black-and-white graphic novel, Fulfillment, to Zoe Chrissos’ ’18 untitled spiral wooden sculpture.
“I’m really impressed with the Kenyon student body,” Alex Comerci ’19, who has two works in the show, said. “It’s cool to see your work hanging in a more professional setting.”
With the upcoming opening of the Kenyon-owned Wright Building (formerly known as the Buckeye Candy Building), Gund Gallery staffers hope the show will encourage students to make the trek into Mount Vernon, but also that it will connect the Gallery with the rest of the Knox County art scene, Garschagen said.
This show does not have a particular theme or focus, although the Gund Gallery associates would consider one for future shows in Mount Vernon, either at the Place or elsewhere. The pieces currently on display use a medley of styles and deal with a variety of subject matters.
If there is any common thread throughout the show, however accidental, it might be the presence of human bodies. Comerci’s “Ivy” is a drawing of an I.V. attached to a forearm, made with ink and gold leaf. His other piece, “Khadim,” is a shadowy photograph of a screaming Khadim Dieng ’19. “Faith Ringgold’s Feminist Artist Statement” by Meera White ’18 is six illustrations of women above quotes by contemporary artist Faith Ringgold. In Emma Brown’s ’17 “Lonely Body,” a fragmented woman’s torso floats in a black frame. Katie Lovins’s ’17 “Eupnea: 1 Minute,” a series of inflated paper bags affixed to a wooden backdrop, represents the breathing patterns of a human being. Harlee Mollenkopf’s ’17 “Shelter” is a dress made of wire and fabric that looks like a body is wearing it.
Framed on the gallery’s walls, the works looked professional; many of the student artists plan to sell their work, as advertised in the show’s program. “You hear ‘pop-up show’ and picture thumbtacks in the wall,” Garschagen said.
“It ended up being a good snapshot of student work,” Garschagen said, “or definitely hitting a vein of it.”