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With UD’s David Kim and Anne Bowler speaking in the background in
the Creative Vision Factory’s open work space, (from left) UD
undergraduate Dillon DiGuglielmo, artist Geraldo Gonzalez and graduate
student Joshua Stout look over some of Gonzalez’s work. Gonzalez, whose
artwork has a transportation theme, was also enrolled as a student in
artists who use studio space at the nonprofit Creative Vision Factory
(CVF) in Wilmington find both a creative outlet and a sense of community
there, a way to help them deal with the struggles they’ve faced in
Now, a project undertaken in partnership with the University of
Delaware will ensure that sharing their art will no longer be one of
Students and faculty have developed a digital archive
where the public can learn about some of the artists and view a
selection of their work. Plans are to continue expanding the archive
with additional artists and new works.
CVF was founded by UD alumnus Michael Kalmbach to provide a community
and support for artists on the behavioral health spectrum. Its members
have produced impressive work over the years, but the organization’s
resources — including tight space in its storefront building — have
limited the artists’ ability to show their work.
“The archive is a really important project that we’ve just never been
able to find time for, so we were very grateful for the University’s
help,” said Kalmbach, who earned his master of fine arts degree from UD
“Preserving the artists’ work is critically important, and because
the archive is digital, it not only saves space but we can continue to
add to it.”
The initiative was part of a one-year series of University
courses called the Wilmington Archives Project, which included such
topics as storytelling, digital humanities and environmental justice,
all using Delaware’s largest city as a focus and all involving community
When Anne Bowler, associate professor of sociology, was approached
about taking part in the project, she was already familiar with CVF and
immediately thought that students in her “Sociology of Art and Culture”
class could learn a lot by working there.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Gathered across the street from the Creative Vision Factory
are (from left) David Kim, Joshua Stout, Anne Bowler, Geraldo Gonzalez,
Dillon DiGuglielmo and Michael Kalmbach, standing in front of a mural
designed and installed by CVF artists on the wall of the Christina
Cultural Arts Center.
“I knew my students could benefit from a collaboration, but I wanted
to make sure that the Creative Vision Factory would benefit, too,” she
said. “I asked what they needed, and they immediately asked for our help
in creating an archive that would organize the artists’ work and make
Students in the class were paired with CVF members and, throughout
fall semester, worked on developing biographies of the artists and
learning about the works they created. In their final presentations in
December, a crowd gathered at CVF to hear each student showcase a
David Kim, assistant professor of English and, with Kalmbach, a
principal investigator with the Wilmington Archives Project, then
developed the website for the content provided by the students and
“I wanted to continue the kind of work I had done in New York and
Los Angeles to help preserve cultural heritage,” Kim said. “I saw
shoe-string operations there that didn’t have the means to archive,
document and share their work with the public. Universities need to work
collaboratively with community groups, to share our work and
The UD students described their experience as an opportunity to move
beyond the classroom and to try something that was both hands-on and
community-based. All said they were impressed by the quality of work the
CVF artists created and by their personal stories.
“It was great to work with artists, even just as the middleman,” said
Dillon DiGuglielmo, a senior majoring in criminal justice. “And the
community aspect was a real eye-opener. I did an [earlier] internship
just up the street, working with Family Court, but this gave me a new
perspective of the community.”
Benet Burton, an anthropology student who previously did some work
with archival material through the Colored Conventions Project at UD,
said she loved experiencing a different kind of archive.
“With this class, I found that art and the interpretation of art is
still archival work, but it’s different from text-based and just as
fascinating,” she said. “And getting to know [CVF artist] Ken Carley was
great. There’s always something new to look at in his work.”
The technology involved in creating a digital archive was a
learning experience in itself, said sociology doctoral student Joshua
“We really learned the nuts and bolts from David [Kim],” he said. “It was a crash course.”
At CVF, whose mission is to provide individuals with opportunities
for self-expression, empowerment and recovery, it’s especially important
to have a showcase for the artists’ work, Bowler said.
“It’s a place where everyone’s creative potential is fostered and
nurtured, where there’s a real sense of community,” she said. “Having a
digital, permanent record and catalog gives their work the recognition,
dignity and importance that it deserves.”
Bowler, who plans to bring a new class back to CVF to add to the
archive in the fall, thanked all those who supported the venture,
including the College of Arts and Sciences, the college’s
Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center and the University’s
Partnership for Arts and Culture. In addition, she said, Professional
and Continuing Studies at UD supported the inclusive nature of the class
by enrolling CVF artist Geraldo Gonzalez as a student.
The course, “Sociology of Art and Culture,” was cross-listed in Sociology and Criminal Justice and Material Culture Studies.
To view the CVF online archive, visit this website.
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Evan Krape