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History of the GCAC Dresden Artist Exchange

In 1994, three inquisitive German artists traveled to Columbus, Ohio as part of a residency pilot. With this visit, Veit Hoffman, Stefan Plenkers and Rainer Zille set into motion an enduring artist exchange between Columbus and its sister city Dresden, Germany. In 1995, the Greater Columbus Arts Council (Arts Council) solidified its partnership with the State of Saxony (Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen ) and sponsored Columbus artists Richard Harned and Linda Fowler to participate in a residency in Dresden.

Twenty-five years later, the Columbus-Dresden artist exchange program continues to open the world to artists in their discovery of new scenery, cultures and history. Our artists serve as Columbus ambassadors, raising Columbus’ international profile as a thriving art community, and our German guests bring to Columbus new cultural and artistic practices. During these residencies, the artists tap into patience, awe and humor, and they leave with inspiration.

Richard Harned, one of the first artists to travel to Dresden noted:

They were not ready for us, so we trailblazers were sent to Leipzig, with a weekend overnight to a Dresden worker’s hotel…The local artists were fantastic. The acoustics in the Thomaskirche where Bach was music director sounds like one of his compositions when you drop a pin. The Battle of the Nation’s monument is like walking into the Lord of the Rings. I still have a poster hanging of a mind-blowing production of Carmina Burana and I dream of the creature costumes. There was an abandoned Gasometer that I documented inch by inch.

The program continued to improve each year thereafter and is now a coveted opportunity. By the end of 2019, GCAC will have hosted 52 German artists and sent 47 Columbus artists to Dresden.*

*Columbus did not have artists travel to Dresden in 1996, 1997 or 2020.