Local business spotlight: Troppus Projects

Kelly Dietrick in front of local artists’ artwork.

Chloe Zofchak Reporter

With anything from paper clip earrings to art exhibits, Troppus Projects still has a unique presence in Downtown Kent five years after it opened its doors. 

Troppus Projects, located at 141 South Water St., may have a “pretentious white cube aesthetic” according to the owner, Kelly Dietrick. However, Dietrick claims the business (and herself) are anything but pretentious. 

“I try to be a comfortable, hands on space that works against that visible pretentiousness,” Dietrick said.

Dietrick opened Troppus Projects May 2017 after working as a professor and adjunct at Kent State. 

“I honestly hadn’t thought about owning or operating an art space until February of [2017]. It’s not something I anticipated taking on,” Dietrick said. “Teaching at the university, I would often have art students who aspired to do this. I thought, ‘That was not on my radar and here I am doing it.'”

Now, almost five years later, Troppus Projects still stands in Downtown Kent. Although, COVID-19 has affected the business and made Dietrick question staying open. 

With COVID-19 landing on Troppus Projects’ third year being open, Dietrick had to decide if she wanted to stay open when her lease was up April 2021. 

“Small business is hard. It takes a few years to know if it’s going to work,” Dietrick said. “It felt really unfortunate, but I don’t know if I would have peace with closing after the last year.”  

Dietrick pushed forward, scheduling art shows through the rest of the year and is enjoying the process of setting up the new shows all by herself. 

“My favorite part is definitely working with other artists and hanging shows. I would say it has definitely become part of my own creative practice at this point,” Dietrick said. “I find as much joy and excitement making these shows happen and presenting them sometimes as much as I do making my own work.”

Troppus Projects continues on with showcasing local artists and providing Kent with an opportunity to support many different forms of artwork. 

“Give it another year and we’ll go from here,” Dietrick said. “No one wakes up and says ‘I have to go to the art space today’ – it’s not like you need milk. But I do think that communities need this and benefit from it.”

Chloe Zofchak covers the City of Kent. Contact her at [email protected].