Thursday, March 6, 2014

Poking Fun at Art: Momentum Artist Cayla Lewis

This post is part of our series on Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's Momentum OKC 2014. Momentum exhibits Oklahoma artists ages 30 and younger in a venue created specifically for them, helping them gain experience and meet new audiences. Today we are featuring Momentum artist Cayla Lewis from Oklahoma City, OK.

Laura Reese: What is your concept and inspiration for this piece in Momentum?
Cayla Lewis: The next two questions really relate to each other. I like art... but I also really like to poke fun at art, question "what is art," and normally make things that people wouldn't consider "art." My initial inspiration for this series (which I'll explain in the next question) came from artist Marina Ambromovic's piece, "The Artist is Present." The gist of her performance is that she simply sits in an open gallery space at a table with a chair across from it, welcoming guests to sit across from her. The artist is the art. This piece will be me, behind a frame, being the art. In my mind, it's pretty tongue in cheek, but like I said, I like to poke fun at what art is and challenge what it could be. Viewers will coast through the gallery, looking at lovely paintings and sculptures but will hopefully stop and laugh and think and question when they see my performance. Also, who's to say I'm not a piece of art anyway? I'd like to consider myself a dang masterpiece! 

Cayla Lewis, Oklahoma City, “The Artist Is”, Performance Mock Up 

LR: Is this work part of a series?
CL: Yes. As a follow-up and ode to Marina Ambromovic's "The Artist is Present," this will be the second performance in my personal series following up "The Artist is Not Present," in which I went to a very popular event (during a performance art show I helped organize with Molly O'Connor) and communicated only via social media. I had a hashtag #theartistisnotpresent to follow up with anyone wanting to communicate. "The Artist Is" will likely be similar, as I will be mute during the performance, much like art on the wall - you can't necessarily physically communicate with it, but it can still mean something to you and cause a person to think past the surface. 

LR: What do you like about performance work?
CL: I started writing this, "the biggest thing I like about performance art..." scratch that, "the two biggest thing I like..." and so on and so forth. That being said, I like a lot of things about performance art. I like the ephemerality of most performance art pieces, how you have to be present at the time of the performance to ever really see it. I like actions. I love art but have never been super interested in staring at pretty paintings on the wall, performance art takes art to an entirely new dimension and also brings in the fact that an action, a person, an event... can be the art. I know it's not the most widely accepted/understood form of art, but that is maybe another reason why I'm drawn to it. 

I personally also like performing. I would never call myself a "performer," I'm shy and a super introvert but being the main product/medium of an art work is really exciting and motivating. I'm not a very opinionated person but I feel like performance art lets me show my perspectives about art in a unique way. 

You can see my work at

Momentum OKC opens March 7 & 8 with live music, performance, and visual art by 101 young Oklahomans. The exhibition remains on display until March 10 at the Farmer's Public Market OKC, 311 S Klein. Learn more or buy tickets at

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