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DVAC presents Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back: An investigation of the artist as activist

DAYTON (August 14, 2017) – The Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC) is pleased to present Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back, a group exhibition featuring works by Dayton Regional STEM School (DRSS) students and a selection of local and regional artists whose work explores the theme of social justice. The exhibition, inspired by the 2016 removal of DRSS student artwork from the Dayton Convention Center due to its controversial nature, begins August 25th and continues through September 22nd, 2017. Michael Casselli, Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Installation at Antioch College, will be guest curating the exhibition.

Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back features three components: the original DRSS student works; installations in response to the student work by three nationally recognized guest artists; and juried selections from an open call to the local art community.

The guest artists, Carris Adams, Juan-Si Gonzalez, and Christina Springer are each known for pushing political, gender, and racial boundaries with their work.

Carris Adams received her BFA from the University of Texas at Austin (2013) and MFA from the University of Chicago (2015). Her practice consists of drawings and paintings that reference signs and signifiers in the landscape pointing to resilience and inequality.

Born in Santiago de Cuba, Juan-Si Gonzalez is an international interdisciplinary artist who studied at the Higher Institute of the Arts in Havana, Cuba. He currently lives in Dayton and has been awarded three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Artist Fellowships.

Christina Springer is a text artist who uses poetry, dance, theatre, film, and other visual expressions in her national and international performances, most recently in New York, Greece, and India. Her educational outreach work included four site-specific, mixed media projects with youth at The Tower of London.

“DVAC is thrilled to present this incredibly powerful show,” said Eva Buttacavoli, DVAC’s Executive Director. “The student work alone is impressive, but when shown side-by-side with works created specifically in response to the student’s works by Adams, Gonzalez, and Springer, the show takes on an entirely new and vibrant energy. With undertones of race, gender, and inequality, these works present a visual conversation about the role of art and the artist in social activism. They not only speak to the viewer, but lure the viewer in to be a part of the dialogue.”

DVAC is also partnering with Welcome Dayton, a community initiative of the city’s Human Relations Council, to present the roundtable One City, Many Voices: Stories of Commonality & Community. This roundtable is open to the public and guests are invited to spend an afternoon exploring the American experience as we hear and share stories about marginalization, activism, and developing community. The discussion will be moderated by the show’s guest curator, Michael Casselli, Assistant Professor, Antioch College, and include members of both the Welcome Dayton and the arts community. The Welcome Dayton Roundtable will take place on Saturday, August 26th, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. In addition, a Gallery Talk is scheduled for September 1st, with Michael Casselli and the exhibition artists from 5:30- 8:00 p.m.

The opening reception for Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back will take place on August 25, 2017 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at DVAC, located at 118 N. Jefferson St. in Downtown Dayton. Entry to the exhibition and public programs are free and open to the public.

For more information about DVAC or the Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back exhibition visit, and follow DVAC on Facebook (Dayton Visual Arts Center), Twitter (@DaytonVisArtCtr) and Instagram (daytonvisualartscenter).


Mission: To provide art for the community and a community for artists.

Overview: The Contemporary Dayton (The Co) is the region’s contemporary art center. Established in 1991 as Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC), a 501c3, The Co produces and presents original exhibitions and programs, art events, community partnerships, and artist opportunities. Exhibitions and education programs feature artists living and working today, both nationally and in Ohio, with an emphasis on those whose work focuses on issues of social justice. In addition to its three galleries—open to all and always free—its retail store, the CoSHOP, provides income for Ohio artists and extends The Co’s accessibility to art, from visitor engagement to educational outreach through store products, programs, and experiences.

The Co is proud to support the creation of connections among the arts, community building, civic engagement, community planning, and use of public space, and makes an annual economic impact of 3.4 million to the region. Recently raising 1 million during the Pandemic to expand and move into its new home in downtown’s historic Dayton Arcade, The Co is led by Executive Director Eva Buttacavoli, a 30-year art museum administrator, curator, and educator, whose previous roles were at The Contemporary Austin, TX and The Perez Art Museum Miami, FL; and Curator Michael Goodson, who previously served as Curator at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Beeler Gallery, Columbus College of Art and Design, OH; and as Director at James Cohan Gallery, NY.

The Contemporary Dayton receives operating support from Culture Works, Montgomery County Arts & Cultural District, Ohio Arts Council, the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, and Members.