Building Momentum

Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition holds its 18th annual Momentum art show Friday-Saturday.

Building Momentum
Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition / provided
“Shades of Brown” by Madeleine Witt

Since 1988, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) has celebrated the work of Oklahoma artists. Its annual Momentum event honors artists age 30 or younger, and now in its 18th year, the event is 8-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday at The Womb, 25 NW Ninth St., Wayne Coyne’s psychedelic gallery.

For many of the artists showing at Momentum, it will be their first time in an exhibition and will serve as an early opportunity to learn from professionals in the art world.

OVAC executive director Krystle Brewer said the show is important to prevent artists from feeling lost the first time they jump into an exhibition. Selected artists are invited to attend one of OVAC’s Artist Survival Kit (ASK) workshops at no cost, which helps prepare them for the installation of their work.

“Overall, Momentum is really a great way to highlight the young emerging artists in our state that are just getting started,” Brewer said, “and a way that we can offer some support services along the way.”

Brewer pointed out that the show is also an opportunity for burgeoning collectors since these young artists’ work will be for sale at a lower price as they begin their careers.

Additionally, the show is a unique opportunity for guests to see inside The Womb.

“I think it’s really important for us to move the location from year to year when we can,” Brewer said. “One reason is that it puts art in empty spaces, which I think is always an interesting concept. I think also it adds to the mystery of Momentum. You never know where it’s going to be.”

Last year, the show was held in the Gold Dome, 1112 NW 23rd St.

Marketing and membership coordinator Allison Hix agreed that the show helps share important Oklahoma City landmarks with the public.

“I feel that The Womb is a great place to have [the show],” Hix said. “It’s the first time that it’s been open to the public since 2017.”

In the 2019 show, 41 general survey artists will be represented through 65 pieces of art. These participants were chosen from the 122 artists and over 300 pieces submitted. Momentum offers several awards including the curators’ choice award and viewers’ choice award.

Building Momentum
Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition / provided
“Truth” by Rachel Davis

An additional component of Momentum is its spotlight program that selects three additional artists and offers them support through a $1,000 grant and curatorial guidance. This year’s spotlight artists are Emily Chase, Cecilia Otero and Anna Thomas.

Chase said Momentum provides support at a time that is often difficult in artists’ lives.

“They may go to school for art and then graduate,” she said, “and then you have to bridge this gap between being a student and what that means for your time and your finances and then [learn] how to make art in the world as an adult that’s not a student.”

Chase works primarily with paper as a sculptural medium and also creates hand-cut multilayered paper light boxes.

Her work for Momentum is a walk-through installation called “Memory Box.” A 2017 concussion and subsequent memory loss, along with her grandmother’s progressing dementia, led Chase to explore memory’s fragility.

Although Chase’s experiences are deeply personal, she hopes visitors connect with and relate to her piece.

“The thing that I hope for in my work is that it feels honest,” she said.

Otero uses collage as a storytelling medium. Her Momentum installation is a series of 100 postcard-sized collages that repurpose and change nostalgic images, focusing on their most human elements. This is Otero’s third year in Momentum.

“I was very determined to be a spotlight artist just because I wanted to have the chance to work on a larger body of work,” Otero said. “I thought it would be, as an artist, a challenge for me to do so, which it has been.”

Otero is pushing herself to be more creative with her large quantity of pieces. She has appreciated OVAC’s guidance and professional critiques as well as the community formed around Momentum.

“It’s important for me because it gives me, so far, more opportunities to connect with other artists,” Otero said.

Greenhouse grass

Thomas’ work is an installation called “To the Glory of Grass.” She will transplant Oklahoma’s tall prairie grasses into a greenhouse-type structure.

“My real focus and goal for the project is twofold,” Thomas said. “The first part being that I want to create respect and awe for the landscape across Oklahoma as well as serving as a poetic warning about the possible future of how we could experience this landscape if we don’t fight to protect it now.”

She hopes to bring awareness to this aspect of the state’s unique landscape, which could lead to activism.

“It was interesting even just meeting with the curators,” Thomas said. “I had 10 or so grasses set up in my apartment. They were just so taken aback by how tall they are and how beautiful the forms were, and they were learning about them just through our conversation.”

Building Momentum
Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition / provided
“To the Glory of Grass” by Anna Thomas

The artists’ prior work was also on display at 21c Museum Hotel in February. The spotlight artists will give talks about their projects 6 p.m. Sunday.

Artists are not the only participants who are learning from this experience. Momentum also offers a position to an emerging curator who works with an experienced curator to select pieces and organize the show.

This year, the emerging curator is Samantha Rhodes, who partnered with Zoe Larkins from Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

Rhodes is melding her area of study, Italian Renaissance art, with her professional goals in contemporary art. She credits Larkins with being a resource through the preparation.

“Zoe said, ‘You’ll pick up on what you enjoy and what you have an eye for throughout this whole process,’” Rhodes said. “I’ve really learned a lot from her and a lot about what curators really do, especially in the contemporary art scene.”

Rhodes worked closely with the spotlight artists, providing guidance and communicating extensively.

“Going through that process, and especially going through that process with Zoe leading the way, has been a big learning experience,” Rhodes said. “I think we’re both very proud of what we’re going to have finished by the time Momentum gets here.”

Flock of Pigs and Dustin Ragland are providing live music, and Perpetual Motion Dance will perform aerial dances.

The event is volunteer-supported, and those interested in serving as art ambassadors or helping with installation can check OVAC’s Facebook for the sign-up page. Additional free gallery hours are 2-6 p.m. Sunday.

The Momentum show coincides with the first phase of Mix-Tape, a new experience by art collective Factory Obscura, which opens Thursday in The Womb.


  • or