For many years, UNCG’s School of Art had envisioned a downtown art space where students could collaborate, engage with the public and experiment outside of campus.
This summer, that dream officially became a reality. And this fall, the new art space – known as Greensboro Project Space (GPS) – is transforming the student experience and shaping downtown.
According to GPS founder Dr. Lawrence Jenkens, now associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the 3,200-square-foot space in the heart of Greensboro’s historic south end serves as a “locus of intersection” between the university and the city.
On any given week, the multifunctional space – which shares a building with The Forge, the city’s makerspace – may be used as a classroom for UNCG students, an art gallery for regional and national artists and an event space that hosts public programming.
For GPS intern Kelly Rambo, a senior majoring in art and anthropology, working at GPS has given her a wealth of inspiration.
“Working here has totally transformed my experience as a student and artist,” she said. “It’s given me a stronger sense of connection to UNCG and the Greensboro community, while introducing me to new forms of creating. I’m excited about making and exploring again.”
Rambo’s experience is exactly what Adam Carlin, director of GPS, hopes for every student.
“GPS is a place for students to take risks and try new things,” he said. “It’s changing the way that UNCG students engage with the city.”
Over the summer, graduate students in the School of Art helped launch the space with a series of one-week residencies. This semester, undergraduate students are working on projects that employ GPS as both a workspace and exhibition site.
Additionally, a key focus of the space is to open up the creative process to students and the public. For example, one of the space’s ongoing projects is GPS Band Practice. GPS invites bands to practice in the space at no cost, but with one requirement: The practices are open to the public.
“UNCG students and members of the larger Greensboro community have a unique opportunity to ‘drop-in’ on the creative process at various points between concept and final execution,” said Christopher Cassidy, interim director of UNCG’s School of Art.
Another unique program launched by GPS this fall is GPS Correspondents. Carlin and Lee Walton, associate professor of art and director of interdisciplinary art and social practice, partner with artists in cities around the world who “report back” in different ways to GPS. For example, the project space currently has a correspondent in Berlin, Germany, who is reporting on the Berlin arts scene. A collection of correspondent reports can be found on the GPS website.
“It’s a way for us to reach out and become more than just a physical space,” Carlin said.
Looking ahead, the School of Art is focused on maintaining the flexibility and openness of GPS.
“Our long-term goal is to continue to offer a flexible space – sort of like a publicly accessible laboratory – for artistic experimentation and community engagement,” Cassidy said. “There is a tremendous amount of cultural activity happening at UNCG. We think that a space like GPS can introduce some of that energy to the broader community.”
To view a schedule of upcoming GPS events – including the two exhibition openings visitors will enjoy at downtown’s First Friday later this week – visit greensboroprojectspace.com.
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian
Photography by Martin W. Kane of a GPS performance art exhibition