By Harrison Duhr
When many College students think of their close neighbor, Trenton, they associate the city with negative connotations, such as crime and unemployment.
Trenton is more than that, however, and on Friday Oct. 24, students had the chance to learn more about the positive current events going on in Trenton at Mayo Concert Hall when special guest Lauren Otis stopped by on campus.
Otis is the founding director of Artwork Trenton’s All Day, one of Trenton’s biggest cultural events.
The all-day festival allows individuals to explore Trenton through artist studios, gallery spaces, workshops and public art. There are expected to be about 65 participants this year when the day kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 8.
One of the important themes emphasized by Otis was the importance and significance of community created by art.
“When people can come together and appreciate the beauty of art, it truly is a remarkable thing,” Otis said. “The sense of community that can be brought to the city reminds us that Trenton is so much more than what most people think.”
Another important discussion point that branched off from the feeling of community was the impact of networking.
“Art All Day is physically only a one-day event, but the amount of networking created among artists, organizations and businesses lasts a lifetime,” Otis said. “We give people a chance to not only have future work, but also the chance to do something they love.”
It’s also important to note that Art All Day is not the only cultural event the city has to offer. Other highlights include the Trenton African-American Cultural Festival, the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market and the Windows of Soul.
A big reason why all these opportunities are possible is due to the business Artworks.
This 50-year-old company, 25 years in Trenton specifically, focuses distinctly on promoting artistic diversity by making sure the appreciation and importance of the arts is not ignored.
Otis, a fellow board of trustee member for five years now, had nothing but good things to say about the company.
“The great thing about Artworks is the fact that it’s not limited to just one demographic. There are opportunities for all ages, interest levels, and artistic ability,” he said.
After the lecture, many students asked questions focused on how Otis got to where he is today, but one question that stood out from the rest was when freshman Tim Hosmer asked, “Did you ever expect to make such a difference in people’s lives?”
Otis paused for a second and had to really think, but his response was certainly worth the wait.
“Growing up, I wanted to make a difference in my life by creating great art that I could enjoy,” Otis said. “Although I now know that creating opportunities for others to make great art who normally wouldn’t have the chance is more rewarding. Never could I imagine art would have such a positive impact on those I surround myself with. It truly is an honor.”