Art contest to open dialogue for students 

Ersin Demirci, the executive director for the Dialogue Institute, in the lobby of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, where the work of all artists submitting for this years student art contest will be displayed.  mh
  • Ersin Demirci, the executive director for the Dialogue Institute, in the lobby of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, where the work of all artists submitting for this years student art contest will be displayed. mh

Believe in the Miracle of Human Communication is the theme for this year’s student art contest sponsored by Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City. The contest, open to students from sixth through 12th grades, is an outreach of Dialogue Institute, which promotes mutual understanding and respect for others.

Ersin Demirci, executive director of Dialogue Institute, said the outreach and contest were meant to foster friendship, peace and intercultural understanding among students, teachers and parents. Submissions are due by Friday and must be delivered to the institute either in person or by mail.

The institute was founded in 2002 as a direct result of 9/11. Orhan Osman, one of the founders, said that as a Muslim, he realized he and his friends would need to get out of their houses and meet their neighbors to foster friendship and understanding instead of fear. Part of their stated mission is to “create opportunities for direct communication and meaningful shared experiences.” This contest is meant to address both of those missions.

Students will be divided into two categories: middle school (sixth-eighth grade) and high school (ninth-12th grade). The criteria are originality, craftsmanship and interpretation of the theme. Demirci said he expects between 300 and 400 pieces.

“There are more than a thousand schools in Oklahoma,” Demirci said. “We are reaching out to as many as we can by talking to principals, art teachers, administrators and anyone else we can reach.”
Four other nonprofits are co-sponsoring the event with the Dialogue Institute: Respect Diversity Foundation, JustHope Foundation, Raindrop Foundation and Artdesk magazine. Demirci said each nonprofit will give its own awards in addition to the institute’s awards.

Artdesk, which is produced by the Kirkpatrick Foundation in conjunction with its publisher, well- known artist Christian Keesee of Marfa Contemporary and Oklahoma Contemporary, will award free subscriptions to winning participants.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for mid-March. Demirci said a final date has not been chosen. Oklahoma City Museum of Art will host the ceremony, and as part of the evening’s events, the work of all the artists will be displayed in the museum. The winning entries will be retained by the Dialogue Institute, but all other participants will have their work returned.

Rather than allow all imaginable media, the contest rules call for drawing or painting, specifically pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, acrylic and oil. A full list of the rules, including size and framing requirements, is available at artfordialogue.org. The site also has a set of questions that might help students focus their projects more closely to the contest’s theme.

Demirci said the institute is still actively soliciting submissions and sponsors. An application for students is available on the website artfordialogue.org.


print headline: Talking art, The Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City encourages students to be creative.

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Greg Horton

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