Few — if any — artists ever make their journeys alone. Along the way, they encounter someone who helps, inspires or pushes them forward.
Evolve, Current Studio’s newest group exhibition, explores what artists can achieve when they work together.
The show is technically three exhibits in one, all featuring teams working together toward a common goal. Sarah Engel-Barnett and Suzanne Thomas come together for Nesting Instincts; Erin Latham, Kelly Rogers and Lauren Zuniga offer a community tribute with Love Notes to the Neighborhood; and Holey Kids unveil their cathartic Confessional.
An opening reception for Evolve is 6-9 p.m. Thursday at Current Studio, 1218 N. Pennsylvania Ave. An additional artist reception and talk is 6-9 p.m. March 9. The exhibits are on display through March 26.
Engel-Barnett and Thomas began working together while developing a new art and technology course at Rose State College, where they both work as instructors.
Their Nesting Instincts installation is a large, eye-catching nest constructed partially from human and synthetic hair. Old family photos are woven in, and in the center is a yellow button. Press it, and out pops a printed receipt with a phrase of motherly wisdom.
Thomas said her idea for the nest dates back to when she was a little girl playing with hair her grandmother kept in a jar. Her grandmother used to tell her not to leave it out because birds would make a nest with it and it would cause her to get headaches. Motherly sayings and maternal warmth are much of the piece’s main focus. Some of the sayings come directly from Thomas’ grandmother.
“My favorite one that she used to say was, ‘What you don’t know could start a whole new world,’” Thomas said.
The words of wisdom are printed in English and Spanish. A poster on the wall will supply translations on both ends. Visitors will also be able to symbolically add their own hair to the nest by adding buffalo hair kept in a jar nearby.
Oklahomans constantly hear about the state budget, what is worthy of funding and how valued state assets must constantly live with cutbacks. As a social worker and mother, Rogers said the state seems to be sending a message to families that their children’s education and health is not a high priority.
Rogers recruited friends Latham and Zuniga to cultivate compassion on a very local level, where they can have the most impact. The result is a poem penned by Zuniga and directed as a loving message to the Classen Ten Penn neighborhood that surrounds Current Studio.
Current Studio cofounder Romy Owens said they did some research into the neighborhood and found that over half its residents are Hispanic. To better bring the community together, the poem was translated into Spanish. The artists plan to distribute copies around the neighborhood. The poem will be unveiled at the opening reception, and a visual component will be displayed during the exhibit’s run.
The initial run of poem distributions will be printed on paper made from seed. It makes the project Earth-friendly and drives home the notion that the note is a growing idea that will take off on its own after being planted in the neighborhood.
“We think the letter might change,” Rogers said. “It might grow; we may want to print it in different colors. You never know what will come out of all this recycled paper. It’s interesting to see where it’s going to go.”
Frequent Oklahoma Gazette readers might remember Holey Kids, the masked, anonymous local performance art couple who go by Father and Mother Holey, from a feature published in April.
The pair’s latest venture is Confessional, a joint project with friend Beau Sparks. The artists will replicate the Catholic confessional tradition by setting up their own booth in the studio. Guests can enter the booth and release whatever emotional weight is pressing on them.
Holey Kids will be on the other side of the booth, but their hearing will be obstructed by two pairs of earmuffs. Music will also be playing to further obstruct the sound of the confessions.
Mother Holey said the idea started after a mutual friend of theirs died. They wanted to provide a space that would let people express themselves to someone without revealing anything that could be harmful.
“The importance is not so much the confession itself; just that someone is there,” Mother Holey said.
Evolve opening reception
6-9 p.m. Thursday
Exhibit runs through March 26
1218 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
Print headline: Team works, Three exhibits merge in the Evolve group show opening Thursday at Current Studio.