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Ohio State students exhibit in unconventional Franklinton space

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Exhibiting artists for the "Adult Human" exhibit in front of Sign House (L to R) Glenn Cox, Vincent Cohen, Audrey Galat, Forrest Roberts, Maggie Wehri (not pictured: Sarah Whitt.) Credit: Courtesy of Mona Gazala.

Exhibiting artists for the “Adult Human” exhibit in front of Sign House (L to R) Glenn Cox, Vincent Cohen, Audrey Galat, Forrest Roberts, Maggie Wehri (not pictured: Sarah Whitt.) Credit: Courtesy of Mona Gazala.

Six Ohio State art students take their talents into the community as they team up with the Second Sight Project in a new, experimental group exhibition this weekend in Franklinton.

The “Adult Human” exhibition will be the fourth collaboration between OSU art students and the Columbus community-based visual arts organization, which hosts artists in a live-work residency program.

Second Sight was created in 2012 when Mona Gazala, an artist and the organization’s founder, moved to the area and bought a vacant house in Columbus’ Franklinton Art District, a low-income neighborhood that is currently being reinvented as an art community, according to its website.


“The more I was here, I had concerns about gentrification, how the people in the community were being addressed or somewhat ignored by the media when they were talking about reinventing Franklinton as this creative community,” Gazala said.

In an effort to make a connection between working artists and her neighbors, she began buying houses in the area for the program. Second Sight allows local, national or even international artists to experience the neighborhood from the perspective of community members, while also creating art and showcasing it for the public, Gazala said.

“We bring artists into the neighborhood to experience the place for themselves and to break that psychological wall between us and them,” Gazala said.

In exchange for the space, artists are required to hold at least one event or exhibit during their time with the organization. According to its website, Second Sight “advocates for considered renewal — using art and artists to give voice to the narratives of the community members who have always resided (there).”

Gazala said she sees the program as her own social sculpture. She originally started with just one, vandalized home, but has since expanded into three houses for both short and long-term use.

Student artists Glenn Cox, Vincent Cohen, Audrey Galat, Forrest Roberts, Maggie Wehri and Sarah Whitt, will be independently showcasing their multimedia works, ranging from paintings and sculptures, to installations and video.

Galat, a fourth-year in sculpture, said “Adult Human” offers a good challenge and requires artists to independently set up their own exhibits, as compared to standard galleries that require little work on the artist’s part.

“I think a lot of times, artists bring their paintings in, or their sculpture into a public gallery and the lighting is all set up for them, it’s good to know how to do it yourself,” Galat said.

She added that the exhibit name represents the transition phase that each one of the artists is in as an undergrad student. On the topic of art, Galat also noted that a lot, but not all, of the work deals with the human body and issues of self-portrayal.

“We are all becoming adult artists, or we already are,” Galat said.  “We chose it because it is sort of open-ended and open to interpretation; for each person, this means something else.”

For Gazala and Carmel Buckley, a sculpture professor in the Department of Art who works with the participating students, it is important for students to experience a venue that is outside their standard gallery.

“They’re working in type project houses, they’re literally houses, they’re un-renovated, so (the artists are) addressing the space as a domestic space and it’s gonna be a little bit different of an experience than just in a clean, white-box gallery,” Gazala said.

In Buckley’s eyes, the “mainstream” experience provided by the Second Sight project houses gives student artists an out-of-the-ordinary space, which helps them step outside their norm.

“In contemporary art, often it’s a white box, it’s sort of this space that doesn’t really relate outside of the white box, whereas when you pick these alternative places, it’s more related to the community and more open to the community,” Buckley said. “On many levels, it’s a really good experience”

“Adult Human” will be open Friday through Sunday at Sign House, 735 and 737 Sullivant Ave. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

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