Monday, February 14, 2011

Momentum Spotlight: Sarah Engel

Sarah Engel, Buffaltopia Map Circa 1500, Mixed Media

Featuring young artists ages 30 and younger working in all media in Oklahoma, Momentum OKC opens March 4 & 5. 

Three artists were selected as Spotlight artists to develop in-depth projects, Sarah Engel, Alexandra Knox, and JP Morrison. The artists, who were chosen from proposals, each receive an honorarium of $1,750 and several months of interaction with the curators. This year’s curators are Clint Stone and Erinn Gavaghan. We will feature each Spotlight artist in a brief profile and video, to be posted in a few weeks, to help introduce their work and ideas to the public. 

Sarah Engel, Norman
Sarah Engel in her studio
Project Concept: Ghosts of Buffaltopia Past, Present and Future
“What if buffalos were the dominant species?” That question is the driving concept of Engel’s project. 

She said in her proposal that the conceptreferences Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, a work published in 1516, a time coinciding with The Reformation and the invention of the printing press. The culmination of these events reshaped society. My project reflects on the effects of such abrupt changes in technology and environment, and tension within disparities both caused and resolved by presumed progress.  In reality, American buffalo were slaughtered from an estimated 60,000,000 in 1492 to about 550 in 1889. The number has slowly risen via human intervention.” 

Engel has exhibited her artwork at the Norman Park Foundation’s Tree Show, multiple exhibitions in the Lightwell Gallery, and MSC Forsyth Galleries in Bryan, TX.  Also a homebuilt musical instrument enthusiast, Engel is a BFA Media Art major at the University of Oklahoma who expect to graduate this spring.  She won a 2010 Student Award of Excellence from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. She also has a solo exhibition called Cigar Box Guitar Stars: Return of the Homebuilt Musical Instrument at Sonder Music in Norman this April.
Sarah Engel, Moon Landing Article, Digital
Engel’s project will include images of famous buffalo leaders, celebrities and events. Significant objects from scientific and historical events accompany these pictures in museum display cases.  Filled with historical maps, paintings, photographs and fabricated artifacts, the “museum” will fill a temporary room approximately 8’ square.

Knowing Engel’s attempt to recreate a museum experience curator Clint Stone posed the question, “How would buffalos display their artifacts?  What is the different of working with hooves?” On a more serious note, the curators have pressed Engel to focus on a small portion of the history she hopes to encapsulate to keep the project more manageable. 

Momentum OKC 2011 will open March 4 and 5 at the Farmer’s Public Market. Visit for more information. Read more about the Spotlight artists in the forthcoming issue of Art Focus Oklahoma that will be posted online on March 1.

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