‘Open World’ Exhibit Debuting in Akron Art Museum This Month

“Open World” explores the influence of video games on contemporary art.


(Image via Akron Art Museum)

The banner for the new exhibit uses a digitized design to give a visualization of what will be featured in the exhibit.

By LeKesha Parkman, Special Editions Editor

According to a 2018 Entertainment Software Association survey, more than 166 million Americans play video games, with the revenue generated by the industry in 2018 around $134.9 billion.

Because of the popularity of video games, the
Akron Art Museum’s new exhibit “Open World” will recognize the effect of video games on contemporary culture through featuring of 23 national and international artists. 

According to a
press release, the artists featured took inspiration from several different gaming styles, old and new, including Super Mario Bros., Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto.

Theresa Bembnister, curator of exhibitions at the Akron Art Museum, said these works will draw attention to how video games provide opportunities for creative expression. 

The exhibit’s name, “Open World,”
is a reference to video games that allow players to explore a fictional virtual world with few restrictions and will feature installations that are interactive.

As a traveling exhibition to be shown later in Manchester, N.H. and San José, Calif., “Open World”
is also the is the largest exhibition to be featured by the Akron Art Museum since “El Anatsui: Gravity and Grace” in 2012. 

There will be an opening celebration on Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. to  2 p.m. in the museum, located at 1 South High St., Akron.

Registration for the celebration must be made
on the event website.

Visitors are encouraged to join curator-led tours and experience photo opportunities with
Rubber City Cosplay at the opening celebration. Complimentary treats will also be offered in the café. 

To complement the exhibit, the museum will also host a day-long indie game event on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to  5 p.m. The video games referenced by the artists for the exhibition will be available for visitors to play at “Open World Arcade.” 

for “Open World Arcade” is also required. Member tickets are $10; nonmember tickets are $24; children 12 and under are free.

“Open World Arcade” will allow visitors to experience games selected by juror Tracey Fullerton, designer of the multi-award-winning game “
Walden” and director of the joint University of Southern California Games Program

The jurying panel will also include J. Collins, a computer science instructor at Hathaway Brown and games policy expert, along with “Open World” artists Angelo Ray Martínez and Angela Washko

Visitors will be able to meet “Open World Arcade” game designers during the event as well. 

Overall, Bembnister said that while the works featured in the exhibit were influenced by a variety of video games, the artwork is about much more than just gaming culture. Some artists use this platform as a way to advocate for justice in society.

“The artists tackle topics crucial to contemporary life, including the role of consumer products in shaping personal identity and technology’s ability to create credible—yet false—imagery,” Bembnister said.