Art Exhibit Addresses Food Insecurity

University of Dayton students from multiple disciplines are collaborating with the department of art and design to create an exhibit of socially engaged art from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at the University of Dayton's @Index at the Front Street Warehouse Building at 1001 E. Second Street in Dayton, to benefit The Dayton FoodBank.

The exhibition, “Dayton Desert Chronicles,” will use art to raise awareness and create a discussion surrounding food insecurity in Dayton, currently ranked as the ninth hungriest city in America.

Faculty members Glenna Jennings and Julie Jones planned the event, which will include a meal and discussion, as well as a silent auction for student artwork. Donations to a canned food drive will go directly to The Dayton FoodBank. Guests who participate in the in the food drive will receive a small student-created print while supplies last.

Judith Huacuja, chair of the department of art and design, hopes the event will encourage people to engage in dialogue in a way that goes beyond a traditional art show.

“This is more than an art exhibit,” Huacuja said. “A lot of contemporary art is much more experiential than what guests may be accustomed to. Artists are creating an event or a performance, and through this performance our students will be bringing awareness to the social, economic and racial divides that exist across the city of Dayton and affect the area’s food insecurity.”

Jennings, assistant professor of art and design, acknowledges these conversations can be difficult. However in her Art and Social Practice course, she educates students on the ability art can have in creating and influencing these important and necessary discussions.

“The idea behind this art is to transform space and create a relational experience,” Jennings said. “These aren’t easy conversations to have, but the idea for this exhibit is to use the table to bring these conversations to the forefront of our exhibit and have it become a place in which guests and artists can celebrate our differences and gain an understanding together.”

Huacuja believes exhibits such as these teach crucial elements of art and design to students.

“Art is more than just the contemplation of beautiful objects, it’s also the portrayal of difficult situations and the representations of different perspectives,” Huacuja said. “Art can provide both questions and answers to challenges and we really want our students to see art as a tool, as well as something that affects our thoughts.”

In addition to serving as a final project and space in which students can gain experience, the evening also aligns with the mission of the University.

“Many of our students say they came to the University of Dayton because it lives its mission of learning that is applied to the greater good through a community focused lens,” Huacuja says. “However, so often in our program and in the vocation of art, it is a necessity that artists spend time working away in their studios. But the Art and Social Practice course, including this final exhibition, is one of the best opportunities for getting students out in the community to tackle very difficult and complex economic, political and social situations.”

Please RSVP with a preference for either a 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. seating and include any dietary restrictions to Glenna Jennings at gjennings1@udayton.edu.

- Alex Burchfield ’16, communication assistant, College of Arts and Sciences 

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