For Columbus artist Ashley Hull, the Columbus College of Art & Design's Art Fair is a chance not only to sell her work but also to socialize with those who love, and often make, art.
“People are there to actually look at art and talk about art,” said Hull, 26, who graduated from CCAD in 2016. Current and former students can apply to be included in the twice-annual fairs.
“It's really cool having some conversations with people that go there, especially the current students,” said Hull, who has been participating in the fair since her sophomore year at CCAD. Her father, Bruce, an artist and fellow CCAD alum, usually joins her.
This year's installment of the fair, however, will be missing face-to-face interaction.
>> This story is being provided free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find more stories on coronavirus here. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Columbus Dispatch at subscribe.dispatch.com.
Instead of its usual venue at the Loann Crane Center for Design on the CCAD campus, the fair has moved online in response to state-mandated shutdowns in response to the coronavirus crisis. Despite having never before presented the fair virtually, CCAD leaders were prepared to make the move.
“We knew pretty early on we could transition this,” said Jordan Bell, assistant director of career services at the school.
The fair began Friday evening and will run through 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Visitors can view — and purchase — works by 54 participating artists and designers by clicking on ccad.edu/artfair. The CCAD website will link to web pages maintained by the artists, including those housed on sites such as Etsy or Instagram; unlike the in-person fair, which charges admission to attendees, there is no fee to use the website to navigate to each artist's page.
Transactions will take place directly between customers and artists; some artists will have pricing and shipping costs already listed, but others may not.
“Other people will have to negotiate that and talk it through with the artist, just as you would at the art fair,” Bell said.
One thing that remains unchanged as the fair has moved from real life to online: The artists, each selected for inclusion through a juried process, will offer a diverse array of works.
“If you can major in it at CCAD, it's being sold at the art fair,” Bell said. “There are great gift items and things like cards or stickers and pins, all the way through to your really fine art pieces, like ceramics and paintings.”
For example, Hull's prints, pins and other objects lovingly and playfully depict the natural world, including a print showing a dignified, alert-looking fox sitting among a thicket of green leaves and red berries. She said she is intrigued by the spontaneous beauty of nature.
“Nature doesn't really try to look cool,” Hull said. “It just is — even with all the imperfections.”
CCAD student Eli Secrest will offer his works in metal, including jewelry, masks and sculptures. CCAD graduate Chelsea Bennett will be selling ceramic espresso mugs molded and painted to resemble human faces. And Ashley's dad, Bruce, will present his unique oval works on wood panel, featuring swirling hues in polymer resin with acrylic, oil and metallic pigments.
As with the in-person CCAD fairs, all revenue from purchases will be retained by the artists. Most important, the fair promises to be a respite from present-day worries and anxieties.
“Especially now, it's really important,” Hull said, “even if people just have a couple of things in their home that they're like: 'You know what? This is a cool thing that I bought, it's supporting an artist. It's something that I really personally enjoy looking at.'”