Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Look Within: Momentum Tulsa Artist Spencer Ulm

Author: Cierra Linander (OVAC Intern)

Spencer Ulm, Holdenville
Spencer Ulm, Framing 2, wood, body filler, and paint. 48x14x20"
University of Oklahoma’s MFA candidate Spencer Ulm incorporated his (almost exclusive) history of portraiture with abstract elements to create Framing 1 and Framing 2, selections from Momentum Tulsa 2012. After completing his undergraduate studies, Spencer noticed his inclination toward the construction of frames and stretching of canvases and began to explore this surge of creativity.

The titles of the pieces derive their name from the components in which they are comprised: frames. For Framing 1, Spencer layered 38 frames, including the standard portrait sized 6”x9” frames used to cap the ends, while Framing 2 utilizes nearly 70 different stacked frames. The exteriors of both pieces are coated with body filler, which is what gives it the smooth, finished look. The biomorphic, abstract shapes produced from this process intrigue the viewer, as they do not resemble a mere stack of frames.

The struggle between idealizing the finished exterior versus the rough, process-laden interior creates a dialog for Spencer, which ultimately examines his entire experience as an artist- “what is more important? This general idea that the polished exterior of a beautiful piece is where the artist’s passion lies? Or is it the construction, the trial and error?” By questioning the very nature of portraiture, Ulm is able to further expand the definition through his Framing series.

Momentum Tulsa opens October 13, 8-midnight with a ticketed event full of music and performances.  Curated by Raechell Smith from H & R Block Art Space at the Kansas City Art Institute and emerging curator Laura Reese, the exhibition continues at Living Arts of Tulsa, 307 E Brady with free gallery hours through October 25, 2012. 

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