Current Studio challenges traditional art studio approach 

click to enlarge Kelsey Karper and Romy Owens pose for a photo at Current Studio, Monday, March 7, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Kelsey Karper and Romy Owens pose for a photo at Current Studio, Monday, March 7, 2016.

Local artists Kelsey Karper and Romy Owens saw a problem with the common artist-studio dynamic. They hope to flip that dynamic on its head with their jointly curated studio space.

The pair explained venues that show art are often driven by the need for sales. They are compelled to show art they feel like they can sell because that’s how they will pay their bills. In turn, that places a mandate on artists to make work that appeals to the masses.

“It skews it in a direction that is a little more decorative, a little more safe,” Owens said. “It’s not to say that the work that we see on a regular basis isn’t amazing, because there’s some incredibly talented artists in the state and in the region that we are very lucky to get to see.”

Karper and Owens founded Current Studio, 1218 N. Pennsylvania Ave., as a way to offer local artists an alternative to the pressure of sales. It’s a space committed to doing things in a new way.

The studio will also manage adjoining artist studios next door to the gallery, which will be shared by Mandy Messina, Marissa Raglin, Kelly Rogers and Lauren Zuniga.

Karper said she hopes Current Studio not only provides a space for bolder art, but gives artists the advance support and financial backing to make it a reasonable possibility.

An 18-month trial period starts the studio off as it raises money to avoid perpetual fundraisers. During that trial period, Current will try out a variety of different models and programs and determine what the art community wants from them.

Last summer, Karper and Owens curated an Individual Artists of Oklahoma (IAO) exhibit called The Elaborate Collaborate. The project brought artists together and gave them a forum in which to collaborate. The show and the artwork evolved over the course of the exhibition.

“That was received really well by the audience, and the experience for the artists was really meaningful. That prompted Romy and I to start thinking about all the other things that we had in mind,” Karper said.

They had so many ideas, there were not enough venues in which to implement them. Then they started thinking about what they could do with a space of their own.

Their ideas suddenly became very real when they were approached about a space in the Classen Ten Penn area. The space they occupy sits barren and open, yet full of promise. In addition to building capital to support artists, Current Studio’s online GoFundMe page also hopes to raise money for work on the interior.

Karper said she is excited about the neighborhood potential in Classen Ten Penn and wants Current Studio to play a role in developing it.

“We’re hoping long-term that something Current Studio can do is connect artists with the challenges of our neighborhood or our city and come up with artistic solutions to those challenges,” she said. “We could be the thing that connects those two.”

Despite differences in approach, Owens said Current Studio’s vision of impactful, experiential art and self-sustaining artists is one shared by many community organizations.

“In no way is this any competition for anyone in terms of what’s happening here or what’s happening anywhere,” Owens said. “We’re all working together with the same goal in mind.”

To learn more about Current Studio’s 18-month trial period or to donate, visit gofundme.com/currentstudio.

Print Headline: Current events, A new studio concept offers artists a full range of creative motion
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