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Columbus Makes Art Presents Daniel Rona Conjuring Giants for Massive 934 Fest Mural

Lisa Steward Lisa Steward Columbus Makes Art Presents Daniel Rona Conjuring Giants for Massive 934 Fest MuralDaniel Rona working on the mural for the 2020 934 Fest.
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934 Fest is an annual arts and music festival and fundraiser in support of 934 Gallery. The festival coincides with Daniel Rona’s show, Body Forms. The festival features over 30 muralists, creating semi-permanent murals across the 934 campus, and 12 bands. We caught up with Daniel to talk about his mural.

Lisa: Your show, Body Forms, opens Sept. 4 at 934 Gallery. What inspired you to apply for their 2020 season?
Daniel: I’m always excited for show opportunities; getting my work out there for the most part is always the drive. I can put a deadline on the ideas that will be constantly flowing for the next several months. I’ve always thought about bodies of work in musical release form, art shows are like mixtapes to me in some way? I enjoy releasing the large bodies of work that I have put all my time into and use the art show as the celebration of those ideas.

sketch of mural plans
Planning the mural for 934 Fest.

Lisa: Did you have a theme in mind for your show, Body Forms, when you applied? Or did a theme develop as you created work?
Daniel: During the applications I was focused on a slightly different idea. Body Forms developed over time, starting around December 2019.  What started as a way to continue painting became completely re-teaching myself to paint and view the figure.

Lisa: Talk us through the process of conceiving a 74-foot mural. What ideas did you play around with and what scene did you end up creating?
Daniel: During the first half of the year, my mind was half full of Body Forms, and half full of Art About Art, a recent show at Sarah Gormley Gallery. After making Art About Art, I wanted the two shows to clash in some way as a sort of transitional piece and was still thinking about my creative process. What came to fruition was just that; the workforce that I subconsciously picture helping me create, mixed with the giants that are closer to the current scope of my work, creating a larger mural in the background. 934 Gallery Marketing Director Lucie Shearer called it “A meta-mural.”

934 Fest mural sketching on walll
Sketching out the mural.

Lisa: What was the biggest challenge about creating such a large mural?
Daniel: Keeping focused on the final product. I can easily get lost in my progress, like how little I’ve done, but keeping focused and knowing it will all work out if I keep at it with the same mindset through the whole way, it will be fine.

Lisa: Often, visitors to 934 Gallery will pose with the murals and post them on social media. How do you hope visitors will interact with your massive mural?
Daniel: Maybe they can join in and pose with the characters and become part of the mural?  That may be fun to see.

Daniel Rona working on the mural for 934 Fest.
Daniel Rona working on the mural for 934 Fest.

Lisa: You recently spoke to a group of young people at 934 Gallery as part of the 934 Gallery Mural Mentorship Program. What did you discuss with them?
Daniel: We covered my start in painting and being an artist, my start in murals, and then moved into some of the thoughts and ideas behind the mural along with the process.

Lisa: You’ve cited graffiti as an inspiration to your work. What do you hope young people looking to make murals learn from the Mural Mentorship Program?
Daniel: Ultimately, I hope it furthers their interest in the overall scope and possibilities of art making, individual styles and encourages the different ways they can fit their art into cool opportunities like the 934 murals.

Daniel Rona working on the mural for 934 Fest.
Daniel Rona working on the mural for 934 Fest.

Lisa: What role does public art have in building a community?
Daniel: The opportunity factor may be the biggest at the moment for artists. I think one of the bigger benefits is that it brings people unfamiliar with the art scene closer to appreciating the arts and artists.

Lisa: How can the Columbus community continue to support artists, and in particular, public art?
Daniel: At the very least, as a viewer, allowing space for a tag or credit to the artist if applicable.  Understanding the value of artists and work that went into a piece is important, we enjoy creating works that can be publicly accessed, almost too much that we’ll give ourselves for close to free.

All images by Matchbox Ltd.

934 Fest has moved to a virtual space this year and will be streaming online at 934fest.org on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Headlining this year is musician Joey Aich and artist Daniel Rona. Tune in for 12 hours of live music from your favorite local bands on the CoverMyMeds stage, live comedy and spoken word from inside the gallery, as well as muralist spotlights, artist interviews and behind-the-scenes clips delivered to your living room—or anywhere you’re online.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Learn more about local artists, organizations and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.

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