Last week, University of Oklahoma journalism student Chelsea Childs contacted us to write an assignment about our Momentum event. We asked to publish it on the blog since it's great to see enthusiastic young writers covering art. Thanks for sharing Chelsea.
Guest Author: Chelsea Childs
Young emerging Oklahoma artists, selected by regional curators, gathered with supporters and musicians at a local venue Friday and Saturday evening to showcase their work to the public.
The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) has presented its annual event, Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still, for eleven years. It is an established starting point for young local artists less than 30 years of age to gain valuable recognition. This year’s event was held at 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. There was heavy competition with only 76 pieces accepted out of over 500 entries, according to OVAC Associate Director Kelsey Karper. The guidelines for the curators who judged the entries were based on subjective opinions about artwork quality according to the coalition’s website.
|Momentum visitors examining Zach Burn's artwork during the event|
Photo by Rex Barrett
Outside the main artist entries, the Spotlight awards have been key components to the Momentum event for six years. The curators select Spotlight artists three months prior to the event taking into account the artists’ portfolios, experience and potential. The award includes a $2,000 budget to create works specifically for Momentum along with curatorial guidance during those three months.
For the first time in Momentum’s history, the featured artists were selected by the art collective PLUG Projects out of Kansas City, MO. PLUG artists include Amy Kligman, Cory Imig, Misha Kligman, Caleb Taylor and Caitlin Horsmon, who worked together with emerging curator Taryn Chubb.
Matthew Kaney, Erin Latham and Zachary Presley received Spotlight awards. Though their works did not share an overall theme, curators suggested these three sought to tear down the divide between imagination and reality.
|Momentum visitors playing Matthew Kaney's games in American ArcadePhoto by Rex Barrett|
University of Oklahoma senior, Matthew Kaney, spent three months creating his project American Arcade. He said he felt ‘instant gratification’ at the sight of his combined efforts. Though confident with his work, the possibility of a game malfunctioning kept him on ‘electric edge’ during opening night, but he had little to fear by the end of the second night.
He said everything functioned well at 95 percent and is “the best I could reasonably expect from this kind of electronic-based work.”
His arcade games were styled in the 1980s-era and merged contemporary political issues with humorous elements in hopes of defusing possible tension in viewers. He said he did not feel he was courting controversy, but ultimately took a playful approach and wanted people to explore these issues rather than confront them.
|Erin Latham, Photic Cingulus (detail), Paper and mixed media, dimensions variable|
Erin Latham initially entered the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition as an intern in 2004. After being chosen for Spotlight nine years later, she was excited to be given such an opportunity.
Latham had spent two months adjusting and fabricating her three-dimensional exhibit, but the four days before opening night proved to concentrate the majority of her labor.
“I haven’t been scuba diving, but until I can, I created this,” said Latham.
Viewers were lured into the depths of her underwater kelp forest, named Photic Cingulus, with a strategic use of projected light. Her materials were non-toxic, reused and recycled. The viewers were immersed into the work without fear of being allowed to touch the pseudo environment. She said she likes to create that ‘wow factor’ and her goal was to connect with people who may never get to actually go scuba diving.
|Zachary Presley, Toys & Types, Performance with mixed media|
Spotlight artist Zachary Presley has always looked up to the Spotlight artists of past years, and said he was happy his performance, Toys & Types, was included.
Presley’s performance demonstrated the corporation mindset and portrayal of the label ‘Indian’. Born part Chickasaw and having traveled to trading posts along various trips to California, Presley has found the majority of foreign products falsely represent contemporary Native American life. He said it was the stereotypical merchandise that sparked his idea for a performance medium and demonstrating the persona of a plastic red Indian-like toy.
“Stereotypes kind of cast you into a role,” he said, just like the manufacturer cast the mold of the toys.
Presley said he has lived in other states for school and work purposes, but has never lived in an area with a community that supports the arts as much as the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. He said he is grateful to have been introduced to many Oklahoma artists he otherwise would have never met.
“OVAC has a good umbrella for the entire state,” he said.
Free gallery hours were March 5 through March 7 from 5-7 p.m. where artist items such as t-shirts, prints and jewelry are for sale at the Momentum Market at 50 Penn Place.