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Visual Arts

Exploring 'The Unexplored'

A new exhibition in Norman introduces Oklahoma to tomorrow’s artists, today.

Louis Fowler December 12th, 2012

The Unexplored: Emerging Artists Show
6-10 p.m. Friday
through Jan. 19, 2013
Mainsite Contemporary Art
122 E. Main, Norman

Amy Coldren's Inkblot 1-a
For Vincent van Gogh to receive any adulation for his now-classic works of art, it took death. Luckily, these days our culture does a much better job giving accolades to artists while they’re still alive.

Still, it’s our job to seek them out and discover them. Mainsite Contemporary Art’s latest exhibit, The Unexplored, happily has done the biggest part of that task for us.

“We are bringing new artists to the Norman community, for them to have exposure and to show we’re really all just one big community,” said Erinn Gavaghan, curator of the show and executive director of Norman Arts Council. “All six of the artists in this show are new to exhibiting in Norman.”

Unexplored’s artists are Zach Burns, Krystle Brewer, Christie Owen, Amy Coldren, Cindy Coleman and Tim Kowalczyk.

“As we were pulling [the exhibit] together, I was thinking, ‘What is it about these six artists that is particularly attracting me to them at this time?’” Gavaghan said. “I realized that each has approached their career in very different ways. Each has a unique direction, and I’m hoping that other artists can come and see that, understand it, and think of new ways to approach their career that maybe they haven’t explored yet.”

While Oklahoma City-based photographer and designer Burns agrees, his own trials have made him look inward for a more personal meaning.

“I am still relatively new to the art world. I take ‘unexplored’ to mean that I have yet to fully explore myself and my own work,” Burns said. “I do not know where my work will take me, what form it will be in, or what thoughts and insights and influences will lead me there.”

Legally blind in his left eye “almost from birth,” he believes his work lives up to Gavaghan’s idea that each artist’s direction makes him or her unique to the local art scene.

“Both of my pieces in the exhibit explore obscured stereoscopic photography using 19thcentury technology, mimicking my own unique visual impairment,” Burns said. “I see a world half-blurred and half in-focus. This way of seeing inspires my photography, and the stereoscopic technique allows me to share this visual experience with others.”

He and Gavaghan also agree on the importance of showcasing Oklahoma’s emerging artists, if only to avoid the van Gogh scenario.

“It brings the newest art that’s being created to the public, so they’re getting to see the freshest things that are being created — not just by artists in their own community, but outside of their communities as well,” Gavaghan said.

“But it’s important for the artists, too. Getting your foot in the door can be one of the most frustrating things for young artists.”

Added Burns, “It is also important because new work from new artists must continuously be exhibited, or else the art community will become stagnant and won’t evolve with the times.”

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