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Kranzberg gallery to focus on social justice art in coming year

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

For its next season, the gallery at the Kranzberg Arts Center will focus on presenting variations on social justice art. But the new direction of the Kranzberg’s Grand Center gallery won’t necessarily be abrasive or overtly political, Director of Operations Chris Hansen said.

“It could be very subtle,” Hansen said. “This isn’t an outward projection of ideals as much as how the social landscape and the times are influencing your art.”

The new effort is part of a push to restructure the gallery to include a broader range of perspectives and better engage the St. Louis art community. To that end, the organization has developed a committee to oversee exhibitions that will include solo shows, group exhibits and partnerships with academic institutions and other arts organizations.

The committee includes Stephanie Kirkland, director of exhibitions and artists-in-residence programs for Craft Alliance, artist Juan Williams Chavez from Northside Workshop, multimedia artist Damon Davis, photographer Jason Gray, Kranzberg Arts Foundation Trustee Mary Ann Srenco and Jessica Baran, director of Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts.

Hansen said engaging practicing arts professionals from outside the Kranzberg is the key to developing a better dialogue with the community.

“We are very much wanting this to be a community space and wanting this to be something where a body of our peers have decided what is relevant and what should be shown,” he said.

The gallery also intends to hire a new director who will help the committee make decisions and oversee a new internship program.

The new programming will begin in 2017 and will feature five exhibits. Artists will have three days to install their work and receive a stipend. Each exhibit will address the intersection of current events, social concerns and the arts.

Hansen said Kranzberg administrators hope the space will remain multi-disciplinary and house projects that range from painting to sound installations. 

The organization will receive exhibit proposals online on a rolling basis.