UD student art exhibit envisions the future at downtown Dayton gallery

Generation Z has a hopeful outlook on a bleak future, according to University of Dayton senior Sarah Behnke. She curated an art exhibition at the Edward A. Dixon Gallery in Dayton focused on that “vision.”

The “Visions” collection, made up of entirely UD students’ work, will be on display at the gallery beginning Friday, April 7 and runs through Tuesday, April 25.

Behnke began interning for the Edward A. Dixon Gallery at the start of the year as a gallery assistant. When she saw that the gallery had an opening on the exhibition calendar in April, she decided that would be her next leap. Behnke had complete creative freedom and was involved in every aspect of setting up the exhibition from planning and curating to installing and promoting the collection.

“(Curating the exhibition) just showed me exactly what I want to do with my career because I’ve had a lot of fun doing it,” Behnke said. “Then I just kind of realized this is what I want to do. So, I’m looking for more chances to curate exhibitions.”

As an art history major with a minor in human rights, Behnke said she seeks out opportunities of intersectionality of her two interests. Much of contemporary art explores a social movement or puts forth a social position, according to her. That crossover manifested itself in her curated collection “Visions,” which takes on the utopia of her generation’s future and frames it in a realistic way.

“I feel in our generation specifically, like in Gen Z, it’s very hard to look toward the future just because it looks so grim,” Behnke said. “The future is gonna happen no matter what, whether it’s a utopia or not. I wanted a more realistic vision about that.”

Sculptures, drawings, photography, paintings and poetry span the “Visions” exhibition, all sourced from Generation Z UD students through an open-call earlier this year. Student artists in the exhibit include Courtney Ayres-McClinton, Jayonna Johnson, Sydney Summers, Amariá Jones, CJ Wilson, Caroline Herling and Dolci Asamoah.

Behnke said she is proud of the work the artists created and contributed to the gallery. She curated the collection with these artists’ personal experiences in mind.

“I just really want people to recognize the value they have right now,” Behnke said. “And that is really worth fighting for in the future. I just want people to have more hope even though (the future) doesn’t look good, and it probably won’t be good. As long as our personal experiences are very valued, then I think we’ll be okay.”

She said she is also grateful for gallery owner Ed Dixon for allowing her to learn from him and use his space for “Visions.” Dixon understands what the collection is embodying.

“Her generation can do the most to help create a better future.” Dixon said. “It’s always promising to see students at every level taking an interest and express their vision of how they see the world and how they want it to look.”

A reception on Friday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. will bring “Visions” to the public.


What: “Visions” art exhibition curated by Sarah Behnke

When: April 7-25. Gallery hours are Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. or by appointment.

Where: Edward A. Dixon Gallery, located at 222 N St. Clair St., Dayton

More Information: Visit https://eadgallery.com/visions-2/.

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