POSTED ON OCTOBER 10, 2012:
Young Artists Get Their Due
Exhibition brings experimental works to the Brady District
Three exciting Oklahoma artists will be featured in a show starting Saturday, Oct. 12, at Living Arts.
Momentum Tulsa: Art Doesn't Stand Still is presented by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC), and will showcase the work of artists from our state who are ages 30 and younger, in addition to the selected spotlight artists: Samantha Dillehay, Amanda Sawyer and Libby Williams.
The OVAC event artists will display artwork across a wide spectrum of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, installation, film, and even performance art.
Kelsey Karper serves as an associate director of OVAC, and she said that the Momentum program began in response to what OVAC perceived as a specific need.
"OVAC started the Momentum program about 12 years ago," she said. "It was in response to a need that we saw for young artists who were just beginning their careers, and it was difficult for them to get their foot in the door showing their work and getting started when they were competing with artists who had been doing it for a long time."
Once someone graduates from art school, there just aren't a whole lot of programs pointing these freshly-minted artists toward career-advancing projects.
"There wasn't anything like this for young artists. We saw a lot of artists finish school and then either move away or leave the field completely," Karper said. "We put together a committee and said, 'What can we do to stop this and to help these artists?' This is what we came up with."
What the Momentum project has become, then, is a kind of stepping stone for young artists. It ends up being an excellent way for them not only to exhibit their work, but also to go through the process of submitting work and all that goes along with getting one's art out into the public eye.
More than 60 Oklahoma artists will be on display in addition to the three spotlight artists, all culled from a large field of appliants which OVAC curators culled after calling for submissions.
"With the spotlight artists, they were submitting proposals for new work they wanted to create, but the other artists were submitting work they've already done, so they were submitting images, and the curators chose from there," Karper said.
Due to the large number of entries, the Momentum curators were able to be quite selective.
"It actually was very competitive this year. We have a lot of artists who submit, and we only have so much space," Karper said.
While that's not that great for the ones who didn't make the cut, Karper said that the exclusivity allows for a higher level of quality of the show overall. She also commented on the unique nature of Momentum's artwork and its sometime experimental qualities.
"Some of this is work that you wouldn't see in other exhibitions," she said. "But we're looking for young artists, people who are experimenting with subject matter and media."
The Momentum Spotlight program is a relatively new addition to the event, and like Momentum itself, the program arose to meet a specific need, Karper said.
"The Momentum Spotlight is something we started a few years ago to help artists who are sort of ready for the next level," she said. "Artists submit proposals, and the curator chooses three of them."
At that point, each of the three artists is awarded $2,000 to fund the proposed artwork. But in addition to cash, they also get the chance to have extended conversations with the curator who selected their proposal in the first place.
"They get three or four months of interaction with the curator, who will sort of give feedback, maybe challenge the artist to think a little bigger," Karper said. "A lot of artists get out of school where they've gotten constant feedback, and then suddenly there's nothing."
This year's spotlight artists present three distinctly different projects, according to Karper.
For instance, Sawyer, who comes to the event from Stillwater, presents a work called Vocem, which consists of many pen-and-ink drawings of female characters.
"They're very fascinating works, and they're completely improvisational," Karper said. "She doesn't have a plan when she sits down to draw. It's improvisational, but it's just got so many details. They're very elaborate, imaginative drawings."
Karper also expressed a fascination with Sawyer's work specifically involving the artist's knowledge (or lack thereof) of what was going on in the works she creates.
"We just on Friday posted some video interviews of each of these artists, and there's footage of Amanda drawing," she said. "She said that sometimes she doesn't know what these women are even doing, but they're still very detail-oriented illustrations."
The personal touch in her work comes from Sawyer's own personal interests, as each character represents a specific issue related to women's rights.
"She has some thoughts she's expressing about the political climate surrounding women's issues. She has a daughter, so she's concerned about these issues in regard to her," Karper said.
Norman's Dillehay created an installation piece using an odd collection of materials. Secrets is largely a text-based work, and Dillehay hopes to convey through it a personal narrative.
"She's creating three specific works that are installation-based," Karper said -- a far cry from the relatively simple premise of pen-and-ink work.
"They really are kind of a visual interpretation of personal thoughts, almost like a visual diary. She's expressing some very personal visions and emotions," Karper said. "A lot of her work uses text. One, for example, is a cassette tape. She told me that as a child, she's record herself talking to herself, like an audio diary. She's taking the cassette and unwinding the magnetic tape and drawing it out and writing text with it on the wall. It sort of relates to how she doesn't feel like her family really knows her now that she's grown up."
Finally, Tulsa's own Williams weighs in with The Language of Color, a collection of paintings. While the works qualify as abstract, they do represent what she calls "invented landscapes."
"She has a series of colorful, beautiful paintings," Karper said. "They're kind of a mix between abstract and landscape paintings. ... You stand in front of them and feel like you're in the scene. And then she has some smaller ones that you really have to get up close to in order to experience. She wants to create sort of imaginary worlds that she can escape to."
Williams hopes to offer adventure and sanctuary to the viewer of each work. Her series of colorful abstract paintings contain hiding places, adventures and sanctuary for the artist and viewer.
Tickets to the Oct. 13 event are $7 in advance or $10 at the door and are available at Dwelling Spaces, Lovett's Gallery, and Ida Red Boutique. Find more information at MomentumOklahoma.org.
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