A project created to showcase the work of Oklahoma artists age 30 and younger has selected a number of East Central University art students and one professor for its Momentum exhibits over the last 10 years.
The Momentum exhibits, sponsored in Oklahoma City and Tulsa for 10 years by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, feature works of art by young artists, students and professionals alike. The exhibits often are held in ad hoc galleries like abandoned warehouses, airplane hangars or factories and exist only for a couple of weeks, said Dr. Bradley Jessop, director of ECU’s School of Fine Arts.
They were created to showcase the level of creativity in younger emerging artists in Oklahoma, while simultaneously fostering that creativity and encouraging talented artists to remain in Oklahoma.
ECU has been a very active in participating in the exhibits, showing 15 to 20 percent of the exhibited works in most of the shows, Jessop said.
“We have always encouraged our students to exhibit outside the university. Many undergraduate students find national juried exhibits a little too daunting and the smaller community exhibits more amateur and too traditional,” he said.
“Momentum filled that void. Today, many of our undergraduate students view Momentum as an external arbiter of success. If they can secure a selection in Momentum, they feel buoyed to then attempt national juried exhibits of contemporary artwork or one-person shows.”
He said many of those students have used their experiences from Momentum to launch careers in art or as a springboard to master of fine arts programs.
“One of the comments I hear most frequently about our graduates from MFA programs is the fact they have extensive undergraduate exhibit experience,” said Jessop, who also is chair of the Art Department. “Often that starts with Momentum.”
More significantly, he added, ECU has dominated most of the exhibits, winning 10 awards in the last 20 exhibits, with awards going to students from Justin Irvine, at the first Momentum exhibit, to Aaron Hauck, an assistant professor of art who teaches sculpture at ECU, who has won Best of Show in Momentum in 2008 and last October.
Other award winners include Blake Morgan, Mark Hatley and Amber Farnell.
Art critics, writers, historians, professors and well-established artists are chosen to serve as curators.
Hauck won for a body of work that represents, in his words, his “fascination and annoyance with consumerism and how the resulting energy waste, material consumption, transportation methods and litter affect our culture and the environment. The visual elements present (in his work) are closely related to, or mimic, industrial and commercial objects, packaging and iconography.”