Story by Payton Hayes | Photos by Emily Siddiqui
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center encourages artistic expression in all its forms through education, exhibitions, and performance and endeavors to instill in the public a lifetime appreciation of the arts and enthusiasm for creative practice. The Art Center formed in 1989 and is running strong today, with art shows and events that help connect aspiring artists and established artists alike with their community.
The opening of the 2018 Rose State College picture show was on exhibit May 3-13 at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center by the State Fairgrounds. Oklahoma Contemporary worked with students in Rose State College’s art history program to curate an exhibition of photos sourced from their communities to be viewed in the galleries in May.
Through this exhibit, Oklahoma Contemporary introduced the students to the process of curating an exhibition and encouraged them to consider a career in the arts and connect with communities outside of Oklahoma City, which may be underserved by the arts.
Art Professor Suzanne Thomas gave students a look into why curating and submitting for art shows can be so important.
“For me this was an opportunity for students at this academic level a chance to be in charge," Thomas said.
Aspiring artists and established artists alike, face rejection when submitting artwork for shows as there are only so many pieces that can be chosen for the exhibit and it can be subjective.
"Some of the art history students will want to pursue a career as an artist, which means that they will submit artwork for shows. It also means that they will experience a lot of rejection. This can be very discouraging,” Thomas said. “So when that happens - I hope they remember how hard it is to pick work for a show. It is not an easy process. By putting themselves as the ones who has to make those decisions, they hopefully will begin to understand that rejection is not personal.”
Roughly 80 pieces were on display for the artists and their community for the exhibit. Most were created by students but about 15 were professional submissions. A couple of students, Caitlin Rodriguez, an artist, and Emily Stover, a curator for the show, took pictures with their work and answered as few questions to give insight into the experience they had at the opening of the event.
“The art show was about community and the ways we see our community coming together at an event, etc.," Rodriguez said. "When I went to the Picture Show there were many pictures of people coming together and accomplishing something that they probably couldn't by themselves. It really symbolized what a true community stands for.”
Art shows can help to bring the community closer, not only to experience and appreciate local artwork, but to support the artists and learn more about what kind of art is being created in Oklahoma.
“I saw how much work was put into one show and it was a lot. I'm really proud of all who participated in the making of this show,” Rodriguez said.
Stover also served as project lead for the art show. She said there is a lot that goes into organizing an art show.
“Starting from identifying the theme of the show, then selecting artists to submit work, then comes the choosing of the work (usually juried). Then there is framing and mating to consider, then the layout of the gallery space," Stover said. "Once the layout is decided, labels must be made to identify the pieces, then you hang the work, and show it. After the show has run its designated length of time, comes the de-installation and return of the art work.”
There were several well-known local professional artists participated in the art show, including Nathan Poppe, Kate Luber and Brett Deering, along with out of state artist, Ivan McClellan. Rose State College: Images of The Community allowed Rose State students who are aspiring artists to build connections with established and professional artists.