The new Denison Art Space in Newark brings together professional artists, students, and community members in the pursuit of creativity.
When artist Jonathan Vega ’15 reflects on the purpose behind the Denison Art Space in Newark, he thinks of a photo. It shows a man standing outside, looking off-camera, and holding a canvas painted black with whirls of purple, pink, and yellow.
Vega, who returned to Denison in 2016 to work as Art Space coordinator, explains that the man pictured is a construction worker who was hired to turn an empty Newark storefront into a gallery and gathering space.
“He had a truck full of paintings. He wanted to exhibit,” says Vega. “I asked to take his picture because this engagement between community and art is at the heart of the Denison Art Space.”
Director of Fine Arts Programming Michael Morris agrees. “The space is not Denison in Newark or Denison for Newark but Denison with Newark,” he says. “Our main goals are to create a place that encourages collaboration, works as a lab, and serves as a gateway for Granville and Newark and the wider world of art.”
Since its opening in the fall of 2016, the Art Space gallery and an artist-in-residence studio have been booked. Exhibits showing the work of Denison students, community members, and other artists have lined the walls. People of all ages regularly use the space for workshops and meetings. And professional artists, including faculty, use the Art Space to exhibit and to meet and work with Denison students.
“As far as engagement, we are now where I had hoped to be in three years,” says Morris.
And the man in the photo? Vega asked him to come back later this year when the Denison Art Space exhibits art from Newark. We hope he does. —Rose Schrott ’14