In 1923, the Faculty Club was created to be a collaborative space for professors to meet and discuss the needs of the campus and the future of the university. And through those collaborations, the art program was eventually born.
Today, the Faculty Club’s art program is dedicated to exhibiting the works of artists with specific ties to Ohio State, providing a platform to showcase the diverse talent within the community.
“The artists have to have some tie to Ohio State,” said Lisa Craig Morton, the program coordinator and curator. “They can be faculty or staff, they can be a graduate of the university or they could even just be taking classes here.”
Originally the brainchild of former executive director Frank Gencur and Faculty Club members Henry Hunker and Thomas Minnick 20 years ago, the idea for an art program stemmed from a need to diversify the art in the faculty club, current executive director Jeff White said.
“The program has certainly done what it was originally intended to do, but it has developed into so much more,” White said. “Over these past 20-plus years [the program] has evolved into a very well-respected program within the local Columbus art community.”
There are three major components of the program: a permanent collection, a photography exhibit featured by the Ohio State Photographic Society and six rotating exhibits throughout the year. These three parts showcase artists that are diverse in their work and are connected to students through their university affiliation, Morton said.
“This allows us to maintain an ever-changing program,” White said.
Not all of the selected artists consider art their primary profession, Morton added, as she recalled the time some featured works were created by a dental surgeon at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium who happened to be a talented painter and graduate of the university.
“[The artists] don’t have to be a master of fine arts degree,” Morton said. “This opens up people’s eyes to the possibilities of what each of us can do in this life that may or may not have to do with what our formal education, degree or business profession is.”
The exhibitions at The Faculty Club also provide an opportunity for members of the community to discuss the art and develop their own opinions, White said.
“That is the beauty of the program,” White said. “Everyone sees something different and it can lead to very diverse conversations. That’s why The Faculty Club is so important to our campus and why it was formed as a collaborative space.”
Currently on display is “The Merge of Convergence,” a collection of mixed media abstract paintings by artist Todd Camp. Camp, who once worked as an assistant to Ohio State sculpture professor Todd Slaughter, praised The Faculty Club’s mission and vision of supporting Columbus-connected artists.
“It’s important for students to be able to get a pulse of what’s going on in Columbus in terms of the arts,” Camp said. “The Faculty Club does that.”
Although it might not be as world-renowned as other establishments, The Faculty Club is achieving its goal of bringing attention to a diverse group of artists and supporting the local art scene.
“That’s something I personally am most proud of about our program,” Morton said. “It isn’t the Wexner Center, but we’re doing something that I think is equally as important and significant but is a little more humble and accessible to different kinds of artists and patrons.”
White emphasized the influence art has on community and urged students to expose themselves to it in their day-to-day lives.
“The arts are incredibly important to our society as a whole,” White said. “Each and every student should take the time to step away from their daily grind and diversify themselves. Our program is one small way to do that.”
The Faculty Club’s exhibitions are free of charge and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.