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Local professors bring latest short film to the Wexner Center

Columbus professors Dani Leventhal and Sheilah Wilson will present their film “Strangely Ordinary this Devotion” at the Wexner Center for the Arts on Tuesday. Credit: Dani Leventhal and Sheilah Wilson

Two local professors are bringing their nationally surveyed short film, “Strangely Ordinary This Devotion,” to the Wexner Center for the Arts Tuesday.
Dani Leventhal, an assistant professor of drawing, and Sheilah Wilson, an assistant professor of studio art and queer studies at Denison University, will present an interplay between live performance and short film –– two experimental pieces of art featured in the Wexner Center’s “Visiting Filmmakers” series.

Preceding their screening of “Strangely Ordinary This Devotion,” Leventhal and Wilson will perform “Shameless Light,” a reading of inspiring love letters written by women, including the artists themselves.

The Wexner Center’s “Visiting Filmmakers” series sheds light on rising stars, acclaimed directors and other film industry experts who screen their own films and hold discussions with audiences each week.

“Strangely Ordinary This Devotion” first premiered at the 78th annual Whitney Biennial, the longest running survey of American art in New York that has brought artists like Jackson Pollock and Jeff Koons to prominence.

Leventhal has screened her works at multiple film festivals in the past, and has some of her work on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Columbus Museum of Art. However, she said it took her a few times to receive recognition from the Whitney Biennial.

“In 2012 and 2014, curators came to my studio considering [my] work for inclusion in the Biennials, but it didn’t happen,” said Leventhal, director, writer, and star of the film. “When Aily Nash approached us for 2017, we kept our hopes down, but since April, there have been many requests to see [SOTD], so in a way, the biennial was a catapult.”

As educators, Leventhal and Wilson echo the sentiment that it’s important for students to show interest in the work of their professors.

“I always think it’s healthy to be curious in the work of your professors, to see them outside of their pedagogical roles [and] it’s a good practice to not get too used to being fed everything without having to exert yourself to understand,” Wilson said. “If students want to engage challenging questions around gender, domestic space, queer desire, fantasy, crisis and family, then please come.”

Both women said they believe it’s important for students to know that the arts can take them further than their ZIP code.

“If you stay here and make a thorough body of work, you can have opportunities to pursue it further through residencies and shows which expose you to new people and places,” Leventhal said. “The reasonable cost of living in Columbus allows people the time and space to make all of their art.”

The screening will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. Admission is $6 for students and $8 for the public.

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