Notch another year in the dry-heat at OAI's Quartz Mountain Summer Arts program. The program is a unique, intensive, two week retreat allowing high school artists to receive top notch instruction and work in a highly concentrated creative environment. At the close of the program, the visual art students exhibit several pieces created during the previous weeks, and I had the chance to attend this exhibition. The feeling is intense, energetic, and oh, by the way, these kids are really good.
The summer arts program is unique in that it drops students into the middle of western Oklahoma, and the rural, wind-swept context used by many of the artists somehow did not feel tired or like token efforts. Both Rachel Coward and Joe Orthwine used the rural towns heavily in what they exhibited, and to much different effect. Rachel Coward showed two portraits or two men, both staring directly into the camera, and both surrounded by the buildings of the towns. Her work, along with many other students, felt sincere and direct, and overwhelmingly powerful.
On the other hand, Joe Orthwine's photos dealt with the physical structures around the towns--silos, buildings, farm equipment, old, rusted, and rooted. His photos played with the shadows and contrasts of these buildings against the sky. He showed the shadows of steel skeletons against corrugated walls, a haunting sense of vestige from buildings which can’t quite seem to give up the ghost.
Works from the exhibition will travel over the next year to several locations in the state. According to OAI, the exhibition will be shown at Lachenmeyer Art Center in Cushing from August 18th through September 8th, at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa from September 15th through October 12th, and at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art from November 13th through December 14th. More information can be found on OAI's website.