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Anya Nelson outside in front of the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts

Meet Anya Nelson: Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow

An art lover, art maker, and photographer from Columbus, Anya Nelson is a recent addition to the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery, joining in June as the marketing and exhibitions fellow. She’s a recent graduate of Denison University, majoring in communications and studio art. It was also there that she started her own photography business.  

The fellowship, a partnership between the OAC and the Columbus Arts Marketing Association (CAMA), provides a high-quality, paid professional learning opportunity for those in the early stages of their career. It includes working in the gallery with its director Cat Sheridan, collaborating closely with the OAC’s communications team, and participating actively as a member of CAMA’s board.  

For Nelson, it provides the perfect melding of her interests in art, administration, and marketing. We recently had a chance to chat with her about the fellowship, upcoming projects, her interest in the arts, and more. Read our full conversation below.  

Q: How did you hear about the OAC Riffe Gallery’s Marketing and Exhibition Fellowship? What got you excited about the opportunity? 

I had visited the OAC’s Riffe Gallery during their 2021 Biennial Juried Exhibition and thought very highly of the space as a place for artists and the community. Shortly after, I remember seeing a posting online for a fellowship opportunity and thinking it sounded like a perfect fit for my interests in both the arts and marketing and administration. What excited me most was the opportunity to gain professional and personal development skills from both the Ohio Arts Council and the Columbus Arts Marketing Association.  

Q: Tell us a bit about the role the arts have played in your life, growing up in Columbus and studying at Denison University. 

The arts have always played a major role throughout my life. Growing up, I remember always being drawn toward comics, cartoons, and illustration. At the time, I thought my interest would always be a hobby; I never thought I would get the chance to pursue a career that was based in the arts. This mindset changed when I got to Denison, where I was exposed to many different creative post-grad pathways. Through strong connections with artists, studios, and organizations based in Columbus, my experience at Denison extended far beyond Granville.  

Q: You came on board in June as we were preparing to open the Watercolor Ohio 2022 exhibition. What were some of the things you did to prepare for the opening? What are you doing now to prepare for The Nexus of Art and Health, the next exhibition coming to the OAC Riffe Gallery? 

Coming on board in June exposed me to all the work that truly goes into running a gallery. This involved turning over from the previous exhibition that was going on at the time, Black Life as Subject Matter II, to Watercolor Ohio 2022. The process of turnover involved email campaigns, distribution mailing, and a ton of behind-the-scenes work to make sure the transition between exhibitions goes smoothly. I’m very excited about the next exhibition coming to the gallery, The Nexus of Art and Health. Right now, we are in the process of finalizing the postcard, ads, and layout for the exhibition.

Q: The fellowship is designed to give you a lot of opportunities to learn and gain hands-on experience. What skills are you excited to develop and enhance? 

One of the things that really intrigued me about this fellowship was how hands-on my position would be. I truly feel like I am gaining mentorship and practical professional experience that I can apply toward my next career opportunity. I am meeting board members, artists, and OAC staff that I would otherwise never have a chance to meet. I’m developing my knowledge about arts grants, gallery work, and arts marketing, which excites me. 

Q: As part of the fellowship, you also get to work with the Columbus Arts Marketing Association. Can you tell us a bit more about that experience? 

The Columbus Arts Marketing Association is a great resource to have as part of this fellowship. They do a ton of work on the arts scene here in Columbus. As a fellow, I am part of the board of directors, which involves sitting in on executive committee meetings, asking questions, getting answers, and communicating what is going on at the OAC and Riffe Gallery.  

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of your fellowship at the gallery? 

While I was getting my undergrad at Denison, I got very into photography, specifically portrait and commercial shoots. I ended up creating a small company, GreyGrassPhotography, which you can find on Instagram and online. I was mainly shooting senior photos during graduation and doing headshots on the side. Since graduating, I’ve gotten a lot busier, but freelance photography is something I continue to gain inspiration from and do when I can. 

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The OAC Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the OAC Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram


Article posted by Andrew Paa, OAC Communications Strategist 
Photos by Andrew Paa and Anya Nelson 

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