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Visual Arts

Hip anatomy

No decoding necessary: Art and hip-hop collide in 'Cipher,' an exhibition exploring lyricism and urban poetry.

Mia Cantu April 25th, 2012

through May 5
Individual Artists of Oklahoma Gallery
706 W. Sheridan

Despite a common misconception that they are all about partying, hip-hop lyrics often convey important messages regarding political and social problems. At Inclusion in Art’s latest exhibition, Cipher, which opened last weekend, artists display pieces of their work inspired by hip-hop lyrics.

Cipher’s first run was last year in Tulsa, but because of statewide interest, has come to the metro. The show boasts works from artists belonging to every realm, from highbrow art to graffiti art.

Nathan Lee, Inclusion in Art director and exhibition curator, said that Cipher is the first show of the nonprofit group’s “Element Four” series, covering the four components of hip-hop culture: rapping/lyricism, deejaying, break dancing and graffiti.

Cipher breaks from the norm of other exhibitions in its field because of the variety it offers. According to Lee, it goes beyond the expected, opening its doors to artists who may not have experience in hip-hop culture.

“I think it’s fascinating to base art around lyrics, because audiences will see that this music is actually viable and it does have something to say,” Lee said.

Cipher’s primary goal is to bring about an understanding of the power hip-hop lyrics can hold, Lee said, so for those unfamiliar with the genre, the exhibition may be an eye-opening experience.

“Hip-hop has been commercialized,” said Lee. “Some of it is just plain fun, but not all of it. We offer a variety and give insight.”

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