“Wanna spray paint? Anything you want, anything in the world!”
This is what Long Dog Art Collective Co-head Jennifer Jantzen ’23 and Social Media Manager Zoe Ellen ’23 called out to passersby Saturday on the Gund Gallery lawn. The group was holding a graffiti art event, where students could spray paint and meet the members of Long Dog.
Although some students declined, citing homework or other engagements, many others, like Grateful Beckers ’24, stepped up to the canvas, which was covered with ghosts, tic-tac-toe boards and various dogs, to contribute their own artwork.
“We saw that we could spray paint stuff, and we were like, ‘That’s a fun Saturday!’” Beckers said, after adding finishing touches to a green caterpillar with yellow stripes.
According to Jantzen, the group is still navigating the challenges associated with the pandemic. One reason to host a graffiti event was that it could be held outside. “Also, spray painting is an art activity that you’ve got to wear masks to do anyway,” she said.
Jantzen and Ellen were not sure where they would be allowed to display the graffiti on campus, but said they would post photos of the canvases on their website. The group started the website last spring, when the pandemic upended their plans to hold their annual art festival, to enable students to submit and browse artwork virtually. The website features various exhibits such as “Pics n’ Paintings” and “The COVID Zone,” where students’ creations are displayed much like they might be in a gallery or art museum.
The Long Dog Art Collective was founded by Shara Morgan ’20. She wanted to foster creative expression among students who would not necessarily consider themselves artistic, since there were already venues on campus showcasing more refined work, Ellen said.
“There’s a natural instinct not to show your art if you think [it’s bad], but that’s why I feel like Long Dog is important,” Ellen said. “It’s about giving students the freedom to express themselves without the expectation of being judged.”
Not everyone in Long Dog is formally involved in the arts at Kenyon, Jantzen said. Morgan, the founder, was a philosophy major. As for the other current co-heads, she said, Chris Goodall ’22 is a “science dude” and Rachel Billings ’22 is an English major. She said this made Long Dog seem “like a very welcoming place” to her.
In that same welcoming spirit, Long Dog wanted to host the graffiti art event to engage the Kenyon community. “This is a really, really fun activity because it’s inherently collaborative,” Jantzen said.“It’s really great to see all the art [pieces] interact with each other.”
Apart from their event in the spring, last semester Long Dog also produced Winter Zine, a compilation of student paintings and pictures, photos of students’ sculptures and writing that was distributed to the community in January.
Long Dog may create another zine this year, or they could do something entirely different. “It’s still a blossoming club,” Jantzen said.
In the upcoming weeks, Long Dog is planning more safe outdoor art events, and is considering doing art swaps through a pen-pal system via post with upperclassmen to foster a sense of community among students.