If you go to www.arts.dog, the first thing you’ll see is a big, bold line: “This quarantine sucks.” Shara Morgan ’20, Chris Goodall ’22 and Rachel Billings ’22, the curators of this virtual art gallery, are here to make it suck less.
The Long Dog Art Collective, founded by Shara Morgan ’20 during her sophomore year, is meant to provide an inclusive space for artists to submit their paintings, poems, sculptures, music or other craft that makes them happy. With COVID-19 upending plans for an on-campus festival like in years prior, the collective’s current curators are devoted to fostering an online platform with the same positive space for artistic collaboration that the on-campus event provided.
The website functions much like an art gallery. Clicking on the “Art” tab takes the user to a list of different exhibits, from “Pics ’n Paintings” to “Bands ’n Beats” and the “COVID Zone.” Ranging from stamps and collages to GIFs and embroidery, the first thing one notices scrolling through the website’s muted pink interface is the sheer diversity of works.
Thus far, the picture and painting exhibit is the most populated. The thoughtfully organized exhibit calls to memory a meticulously crafted moodboard from the heyday of Tumblr, circa 2012. Stamps featuring the University of Virginia rotunda or a bookshelf by the artist “K.B.” are followed by collages that put black and white clippings from print newspapers over striking images. One such collage, by Carley Townsend ’20, features craggy, jet-black mountains against a newspaper skyline and is ominously captioned, “A concept of necessary suffering.”
In the “Bands ’n Beats” section, one finds embedded Soundcloud and Spotify links to different artists’ singles, albums and pages. The music selection ranges from Mark Twang’s somber post-folk sound to Will Oakley’s pop- and hip-hop-inspired Spotify releases. Each exhibit is a constant work in progress as more art is added.
Goodall, who has been working on the fonts and layout of the website, said its layout is inspired by art museums, which give visitors the freedom of moving about the exhibits as they please while also softly nudging them in a certain direction.
“You can choose where you start, but there is a subconscious sort of guidance that drags you through the website,” Goodall explained.
While Morgan came up with the idea for a website to showcase submitted artwork after the College moved online for the rest of the semester, the trio had already been discussing online options for a while.
One thing they have considered is a way to incorporate the live acts that would have happened at their festival, such as musical performances and poetry readings. One idea is to have a remote festival, and they praised WKCO for their successes with WKCO’s Remote Fest.
“I think they set a pretty good precedent, a standard for what you could achieve,” Goodall said.
Through the website, they want to give people a space to show off the things that make them happy, with the added goal of providing positivity during uncertain times.
“We want to encourage people to be creative and make things and do things that they care about so that they don’t feel like garbage trash while we all sit through this pandemic,” Morgan said.
This goal is similar to Long Dog’s original mission, which is to showcase the sorts of art that wouldn’t normally hang in a gallery — such as sketchbooks, handwritten drafts, miniature paintings and the like.
Moreover, the group hopes the website, with its own Kenyon-specific brand of quirkiness, will make students feel like they are back on campus, if only for a moment. For them, the work of building the site was its own kind of escape.
“I think the website is a nice way of showing Kenyon students—and really anyone who sees it—that, regardless of the shutdown, we can collaborate and make art no matter what,” Billings said over Zoom, with her dog, Jack, barking in the background. Long Dog offers its new website “with love from the dogs,” Billings translated.
The Long Dog Art Collective is currently accepting submissions for its virtual exhibitions on a rolling basis at email@example.com.