Exhibit feature: "New School" highlights emerging artists from Columbus and beyond

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The recently founded MINT, a collective of young artists collaborating to form an interdisciplinary space and gallery at a former meat-processing factory in Merion Village, set out with a goal of giving opportunities to emerging artists and creatives. The upcoming exhibit, “New School,” which opens Friday, April 17, directly addresses that goal.

“New School” is a juried exhibition featuring 15 undergraduate artists from nine schools throughout the Midwest. Many hail from Columbus and Ohio programs, but a handful of artists selected are from out-of-state schools.

Another objective for “New School” was to bring together established institutions and their members with the up-and-comers at MINT. Hence, jurors for this exhibit include: Ken Aschliman, director of ROY G BIV Gallery in the Short North, Mark Zuzik, programs coordinator at the Pizzuti Collection, and Erin McKenna, a visual artist who co-founded No Place Studios and works as a preparator for CCAD’s Canzani Center Gallery and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The trio reached out to everyone in their personal network: teachers and grad-school students at Ohio State, CCAD and in other programs. They received a more-than-expected amount of submissions, and began the process of selecting the best work.

“My process started with looking at the different material everyone had to submit: a statement, works list and an image. My big first question was, ‘What is it that I’m looking at? What should I be looking for?’ I looked at the work itself, read the statement and tried to get a vibe for why it’s made and if the idea is communicated clearly. ‘Was it an effective piece?’” Zuzik said during an interview at MINT recently.

The result was a diverse group working in various mediums — Zuzik said he was pleasantly surprised by the number of sculpture submissions — but a number of the pieces connected with the jurors individually and collectively.

“There were some that were really stirring, like the drive-thru portraits,” said Zuzik of the series by Ohio University student Katie Johnstone that captured folks working the window at fast food restaurants. “They’re talking about the rural landscape of Ohio. These people in service positions become part of everyday life and the background. By examining them as fully realized people, you look deeper into them.”

Aschliman agreed with Zuzik, saying, “I really like those also because food you get at a drive-thru is disposable, and the way a lot of people treat those workers is very similar. You don’t recognize them as people; they’re just means to an end. To take a pause and look at the humanity of these workers is really powerful.”

Other pieces that quickly resonated with the jurors were a photographically real drawing of a back-alley staircase by Hudson Sharrock and Vincent Cohen’s “Buoyancy” sculpture. The wonderfully strange “Kinknot” by Max Adrian and Ethan Skaates’ “Magic Eraser” are also not-to-be-missed.

“The partnership makes a lot of sense for ROY because these are emerging artists at MINT. They’re doing their thing in this space they’ve taken and are doing interesting projects here. We really wanted to open that communication between the two organizations. Because ROY G BIV has been for 25 years showing emerging artists, so we get to lend some history to the cool factor of MINT,” Aschliman said.

While Aschliman, McKenna and Zuzik offered their expertise to the jury process and organization of the exhibit, it was young Jake Holler — a member of MINT — who spawned the idea.

“I had been interning at ROY G BIV for a couple months and [talked with] Ken about … doing a collaboration between MINT, CCAD and ROY G BIV,” Holler said. “We just kept digging at it because we thought it would be great to make a juried emerging artist show at MINT because MINT hasn’t had a juried show yet.”

Image 1: Kathleen Johnstone_0416; caption: “45255” by Katie Johnstone

Image 2: Bouyancy_Vincent Cohen_0416; caption: “Bouyancy” by Vincent Cohen

Image 3: New School_Emiley and Serina Bee_Hudson Sharrock “Emiley and Serina Bee” By Hudson Sharrock

Image 4: Kinknot_Max Adrian caption: “Kinknot” by Max Adrian]

Image 5: Magic Eraser_Ethan Skaates caption: “Magic Eraser” by Ethan Skaates]


April 17-May 17

Opening reception: 7-10 p.m. Friday, April 17

42 W. Jenkins Ave., Merion Village