Calista Lyon, A Violent Unmaking. Photograph courtesy Dean Taylor

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“November” May Have Had To Wait a Few Months, but the Show Survived (and Responds to) 2020

Posted on February 10, 2021

The Beeler Gallery exhibition roars back from a pandemic-induced near cancellation. Through March 6, “November” is open for solo viewing by reservation—a safety measure that also bolsters the immersive experience.

The pandemic brought many exhibitions to a screeching halt. But for November, it caused just a brief interruption. The exhibit, now at Columbus College of Art and Design’s Beeler Gallery through March 6, 2021, will carry on a handful of months after its intended opening. It features projected video, still photography, and sculpture from 12 emerging Columbus-based, national, and international artists (see below for a complete list). 

November, titled for its original launch month, is now a winter-springtime affair. And while the themes have evolved in the intervening months, the show’s ethos remains much the same. We talked with artist and gallery curator Dean Taylor about creating an immersive exhibition experience during a pandemic, and what it means to put your art on hold.

FotoFocus: How did the exhibition change from its inception to now? 

Dean Taylor: I asked each artist to respond to the ominous tone of 2020, but the theme itself was fairly loose and flexible to whatever they felt like creating. Each artist created new work for this show; some mentioned they had been wanting to do what they did for years but didn’t feel like they had the space or resources. 

It became more video-heavy than we initially thought, which I am thrilled about. The sound from each video piece was a challenge to make work, without the option of headphones—with us being restricted from heavily touched items—but we made it work, and I like being able to hear all the work at once. It’s something that is necessary to view in person, to experience the all-consuming nature of it. Photos and videos do not do it justice. 

The show retains the title November as a reminder of the month’s menacing hypothesis, and [the] pandemic that we are still navigating. 

Beeler BTS Htphotos 080, FotoFocus Cincinnati
Natasha Cantwell, Leave your Body. Photograph courtesy of Dean Taylor

FF: What can visitors expect when they view November?

DT: It’s a cacophony of sound that might feel disorienting or calming. The time slot that [visitors] sign up for allows them that time alone in the space, which I think is a plus to experience the show. Also, we have a student working the gallery desk that will check you in, check your temp, etc.

FF: What are you hoping to achieve or communicate?

DT: What I’m personally hoping to achieve with this show is a healing experience coming out of 2020, a showcase of artists being vulnerable and showing you how they navigated within those times that we are all still experiencing. 

We are grateful to have been able to offer this for [the artists]: the space, compensation, and time to create something [during] a depressing time for everyone. 

FF: How is November a good fit for Beeler Gallery and CCAD? Does it particularly complement any of the values or efforts of the Gallery or the College? 

DT: I feel it’s a good fit for the space because the artists aren’t students at the college, so it gives the current students who visit a new perspective and inspiration to pull from. When I went to CCAD this was my favorite type of show. It is also the first show for the gallery, not just the first in 2021, but the first that is this video and projector heavy. 

FF: How would you describe your personal role with the gallery? And how does your work as a curator impact the exhibitions—or vice versa? 

DT: I feel honored to be the first guest curator for the gallery, with role changes that happened amongst the gallery staff during the pandemic. It felt experimental for me in a way. I’ve only curated before with a print art publication, never a tangible gallery space. This is my first—definitely not my last.

Individually, each work in November represents a unique artistic response to our current and ongoing situation. But as a whole, November is far more than the sum of its parts, offering an immersive encounter that makes space for visitors to contemplate their own unique pandemic experience. 

November, through March 6, Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), 60 Cleveland Ave., Columbus, (614) 222-3270, Free and open to the public, by reservation.

Featured artists:
– Dru Batte
– Natasha Cantwell
– Cameron A. Granger
– Kalaktive collaborative duo (Bahareh Khoshooee and Sareh Imani)
– Dawn Kim
– Susu Laroche
– Bobby T Luck
– Calista Lyon
– Adee Roberson
– Lexie Smith 
– Benjamin Willis