There is nothing like a renowned work of art to spruce up a drab, white wall. Each semester, Kenyon students are given the opportunity to experience just this by receiving paintings, drawings and multimedia creations for their dorm rooms or apartments through the Gund Gallery’s Art Loan program. Since students will likely look at their loaned pieces every time they return home, the program encourages them to analyze art critically. According to the Gallery’s website, “This close contact fosters an appreciation of art as students learn to care for the works, interpret their meanings and come to understand the intrinsic power of art.”
Alina Kalmeyer ’23, a studio art major, was loaned Black Beauty by Nan Tull, a Boston artist active in the 1980s. Tull uses charcoal, pencil and aluminum paint to create an abstract piece depicting amaryllis plants infused with ideas of mortality and eroticism. Kalmeyer’s reasoning for her selection matches up with the Gund Gallery’s mission to foster the analysis of art: “It feels very body-related to me,” she said. “I’m a studio art major, and my thesis right now is focused on the body and investigating the body as a form of visual material. I feel like the drawing I selected approaches it in the same way, so it feels very relevant to me. It was my top choice.”
To be entered into the Art Loan lottery, students select their top five choices among the 88 pieces of art available through an online form. Lucie Canzoniero ’25 received Coming of Age, a primary-colored etching with abstract line work by North Carolina artist Herb Jackson. Canzoniero described the process of obtaining her loan: “We tried for a couple of other ones and we didn’t get any, so this was one of the options that was left over that we could choose from. We chose this one because it’s very colorful, and I like the size of it. I thought it would look good in our space.”
With Ohio winters making dorms particularly gloomy, art has the potential to provide color and light where there is none naturally. Tobias Straus ’25, who was loaned Girl With Big Hat by David Hostetler for his Meadow Lane residence (“Mod”), cites this, and a more personal reason, as a part of why he chose his piece: “It’s lovely aesthetically, and the sunny yellow brightens the dull gray Mod substantially. I wanted a figure and not something abstract because it’s almost like having company. It’ll be like getting to know someone over the semester.”
Other Kenyon students also appreciate the mood-boosting aspects of their loaned pieces. “The piece really warms up our living space and makes it feel more cozy,” Canzoniero said. “We think that [the Art Loan] is such a nice program as it [makes it] very easy to get beautiful artwork to decorate our house with.”
Kalmeyer also felt that her loan changed the overall feel of her home: “I think it [gives] the space a little bit more depth because the piece is pretty intense. It makes the space feel more mature and peaceful because it is black and white and takes up the [whole kitchen] wall.”
The Art Loan is one way the Gund Gallery encourages an artistic community among students. It is an opportunity to both elevate students’ living spaces and increase their respect for the analysis of fine art. As Kalmeyer said of her loan, “It works well as decor, but is also related to what I’m doing at Kenyon.