Some artists can dedicate their entire lives to their work. Maybe theyre single, famous, rich or so broke they dont care anymore. Whatever their lot in life, they can float above the workaday fray the rest of us are mired in, unencumbered by the snares of a normal weekday.
For the rest of the worlds working artists, life intrudes on their art. Student loans and soccer games, board meetings and business lunches they all chisel away at the time every artist needs in order to create.
Thats why OKC artists Christie Owen and Christie Hackler started Fringe in 2011.
To me, you have to be responsible in all areas of your life, Owen said when asked about the mission of Fringe, a womens art collective aimed at promoting female artists in Oklahoma City. But you have to pursue the things you want to define your life. I want to be an artist, so I have to prioritize some things. Thats who I want to be, so I have to make time for that. So I do.
Placing art higher on the priority list might be more difficult for women, especially mothers.
Like it or not, statistics prove the majority of domestic responsibilities, from chores to child care, still fall on women, especially in a place like Oklahoma.
And while Fringe is committed to nurturing and exhibiting female artists, Owen said the group is far more about support and accountability than feminism.
We dont necessarily look at Fringe like a feminist movement, Owen said. It was mainly so women could bond together through a common interest, kind of a strength in numbers thing. When a lot of women start having children, start getting married, plenty of these domestic things can take away from the time you need to be an artist. And several of the girls in the group were art students at [the University of Central Oklahoma], just starting their career path, so it wouldve been especially easy for them to let go of their art.
Owen said Fringe helps its members stay focused on their goals.
If there wasnt that camaraderie, that accountability that helps you keep art in front of you and tells you, Hey, this is what youre supposed to be doing, I think it would be much easier to lose it altogether, she said. This helps a lot of people not be so distracted.
Owen said that accountability also enhances the quality of Fringe shows and the Oklahoma City arts scene as a whole.
Fringe artists arent given a membership card and a free pass; theyre responsible for attending events, showing their work and pushing themselves as artists.
By raising our standards, we feel like weve helped raise the standards in the community, and its been magical, Owen said. In Fringe, you gotta show up, you gotta show and you gotta make good, quality work. Its not just about supporting female artists; its about challenging them.
A challenge of sorts was issued by OKC artist and graphic designer Erin Cooper in a feature story in the Oct. 14 issue of Oklahoma Gazette.
The article centered around Coopers assertions that the citys arts scene could be a boys club at times and aspects of its creative climate could lean toward sexism, both unintentionally and deliberately.
When asked if shed read the article, Owen said she had, but her experiences differed from Coopers.
You know, I had really never thought about it until I read that article, she said. It did challenge me to decide how I felt about it, but I just cant say from personal experience that I feel the same way. Im a graphic designer too, and I couldnt even tell you the ratio of male-to-female artists in the field. I do work for BMX, and I think maybe Im just used to working with those dirty boys. BMX is very dirty, very gritty, very technical, very ... masculine. So I guess I just got used to being a female artist in that arena.
Cooper and Owen might have had different experiences with biases in the art world, but they share the same hustle and determination that has allowed them to balance their personal and professional lives with their artistic ambition.
If you want to do something, you have to go after it, said Owen, who has a husband, an 11-year-old daughter and the countless responsibilities that only a working parent/artist can understand. You set your goals, and thats what you pursue every day, whether youre male or female. I think you can balance being a mom, working another job and being an artist when you need to be. Were all multi-tasking. Its just a matter of what you choose to be your priorities. The laundry can wait.
Fringes next show, Enclave, takes place at Mainsite Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main St., in Norman in December.
Visit fringeokc.com for more information.
Print Headline: Fringe bene?ts, A local artist created a group to help women artists manage their time and create.