Forward march 

Although entering its 10th incarnation, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s
“Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still” is still younger than the artists
whose work drives the annual event.

“‘Momentum’ started because we were concerned that so few young artists were participating in the local art scene,” said Julia Kirt, OVAC executive director. “We would see a significant lag time from when someone would graduate art school and when they would start showing and becoming a part of the art community.”

By limiting participants to ages 30 and under, Kirt said artists are encouraged to begin working on their careers before they even graduate. That constant supply of new blood results in an energetic exhibition with a heavy dose of conceptual and experimental pieces, in which creatives grapple to define their styles and set themselves apart from older generations.

JP Morrison, who has participated since she was 19, is one of this year’s spotlight artists. A benefit of the project was being able to work with curator Clint Stone and emerging curator Erinn Gavaghan.

“Having the opportunity to meet with the curators since the initial selection has been nice,” Morrison said. “I haven’t had that kind of interaction with a professional on a personal level since college, and I miss it.”

Gavaghan wanted to participate to work with a more experienced curator on a large-scale event, but also to immerse herself further into the local arts scene after moving to Norman to become executive director of Norman Arts Council. Because many “Momentum” artists are going to school or recently graduated, she views the event as a critical learning tool for budding careers.

“A lot of the young artists don’t know where to start in order to start getting recognition and to get their work in front of audiences,” Gavaghan said. “Exhibiting through their schools … is not the same thing as going out on your own and getting into an exhibit. It’s not just your faculty or fellow students seeing your work; it is now the broader public.”

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