Columbus artist Lisa McLymont hand painted the title wall for “Free Space.” Credit: Courtesy of the Wexner Center for the Arts

In a time when day-to-day lives aren’t as “free” as they used to be, an exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts is creating “Free Space” in response to the needs of the community. 

“Free Space” is a community resource lounge offering daily microcinema — low-budget short film screenings — as well as other creative programs, according to the Wexner Center for the Arts’ website. The exhibition opened Thursday and will continue through Dec. 27.

The exhibition was created as an effort to respond to the stressful conditions of 2020 and the needs expressed by community members at Ohio State and in Columbus, according to the center’s website.

“Presented amid the most contested presidential election in American history and massive social upheaval surrounding the entwined public health issues of systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wexner Center’s fall exhibitions highlight work from a diverse group of artists examining the tenets of American democracy, representative structures, and modes of political discourse,” the website reads.

Although “Free Space” will be held in the Wexner Center’s entry gallery, Lucy Zimmerman, associate curator of exhibitions, said it isn’t a typical exhibition. Instead of patrons coming to view the art, Zimmerman said it is more of a collaborative and flexible environment for people to use.

“Free Space” will be featuring a wide variety of programs, such as film screenings that are held two to three times a day. 

“We decided that the spine and underlying structure of each day would be this rotating film program,” Jennifer Lange, curator of the film and video studio program at the Wexner Center, said.

There will be three sets of programs shown in the microcinema: “Film Activism: Cinetracts Expanded,” “Sequence 01: Diasporic Reckoning” and “Everybody’s got a little light, under the sun.” The first program will show from Thursday to Oct. 11, while the second will show from Oct. 13 to Nov. 8 and the third from Nov. 10 to Dec. 27, according to the center’s website. 

There are also ways for non-artist members of the community to contribute to the space. The “Free Space: Community Reel” —  a collection of one-minute-or-less short videos in response to current events — will be playing online and in the gallery, according to the website. The  “Free Space: Residue Wall” is a community collage of images and words that will be updated with new entries once every two weeks. Both projects will be composed of submissions from anyone who wants to contribute. Information regarding submission requirements and tips can be found at the center’s website.

“What [“Free Space”] is on Sept. 17 is not gonna be what it is on Nov. 15 or on Dec. 15,” Lange said.

Alongside its more artistic offerings, “Free Space” also provides a place for teachers to reserve and hold classes. Although classes cannot be larger than 20 people, Lange said the hope is that the size of the Wexner Center will allow for a space available to people who need it.

This space won’t always be limited just to teachers though.  

“We also would love to expand to student groups or community organizations under a certain number for them to book the space,” Zimmerman said.

The Learning and Public Practice Department will hold office hours once a week to provide help with homework or any other projects, as well as act as a hotline for questions, Zimmerman said.

“Free Space” will be on display Thursday through Dec. 27 at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The exhibition is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.