Georgia Southern graduate student to display Dungeons and Dragons inspired art exhibit

Elizabeth Gross

A Georgia Southern University graduate student created an MFA thesis exhibition inspired by Dungeons and Dragons which will be on display from March 28 to April 1 at the Center for Art and Theatre’s University Gallery.

Zak Kelley, a graduate student currently in the process of getting a master’s degree of fine arts in 2D studio, is the artist of the exhibit.

The exhibit is titled “Neo_Fluxus and Dragons,” and there will be a reception after the first display day on March 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the same building as the exhibition, according to a recent press release.

“Neo_Fluxus and Dragons” will be an interactive experience for the viewers, Kelley said. The exhibit begins in the Contemporary Gallery in the Center for Art and Theater, and in the middle of the gallery will be a pedestal, a notebook and bowl full of 20-sided dice and a list of rules corresponding to dice roll numbers.

The notebook will contain a story from Kelley’s experiences in the GS galleries and an instruction for the viewer to roll one of the dice. The die roll, in association with the rules, will send the viewer to a series of pedestals with notebooks and dice.

This interactive experience will eventually lead the viewer to Kelley’s studio in the Arts Building, Kelley said.

“I call this experience ‘The Journey,’ as the viewer gets to interact with the space I have practically lived in for the past eight years,” Kelley said. “A final notebook will rest on a final pedestal in my studio. This will instruct viewers to place their dice within the studio space, physically informing the installation and allowing the viewer to add to my art. The art, in this sense, is about the experience of experiencing art.”

D&D is a popular role-playing fantasy game, wherein much of the content is dictated by chance in the form of dice-rolling.

“It’s kind of amazing how much the game and art have in common,” Kelley said. “It is the participants in the experience that defines what happens in that experience. For D&D, it is the players that get to decide how to handle problems presented to them. In art, it is the viewer that gets to decide how they see the art they look at.”

According to Kelley viewers do not have to be fans of D&D to enjoy “Neo_Fluxus and Dragons.”

“I use D&D as inspiration for the work, but the works can be interpreted however the viewer wants,” Kelley said. “The D&D portions of the work are like Easter eggs. If you see it, then you are in on a little secret. If you don’t, it doesn’t ruin the experience.”

Kelley said that his role in the exhibit is one similar to a dungeon master in D&D. The dungeon master is the title for the player and storyteller who runs a Dungeons and Dragons game.

“For me, there is satisfaction in giving an adventure and allowing people to find their way through it,” Kelley said. “It is my narrative, but it is influenced by the people around me.”

Kelley said that he bought and read all of the D&D books, bought hundreds of dollars worth of paraphernalia and bought a 3D printer for the sole purpose of making his own D&D figurines. He also consumes D&D related media such as podcasts and videos and tries to play D&D every month with his friends.

“I think I am a fan,” Kelley said.

Kelley said that he is graduating from GS this May and hopes to become a professor.

“The ultimate goal in the next few years is to be a college professor, keep on making art and keep on playing D&D,” Kelley said. “You know, same old same old minus the whole ‘being a student’ thing.”

Elizabeth Gross, The George-Anne News Reporter, [email protected]