OU students team with established artists for a new installation 

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Artists are stronger in numbers in a new exhibition from the University of Oklahoma’s School of Visual Arts.

Symbiotic teams students up with seasoned artists to create collaborative installations that encourage community involvement. Curators and University of Oklahoma (OU) School of Visual Arts graduates Jarica Walsh and Katie Pendley devised the show to redraw and expand the boundaries of education.

“Art students are usually insulated from the rest of the art world,” Walsh said. “We thought this would be a great way to create some exposure for students as well as lasting mentorships.”

Art school is not within the well-financed STEM realm and, therefore, too often exists in a vacuum where students are isolated from larger communities and professional growth. Walsh and Pendley named the show to signify the importance of artistic collaborations.

“The name Symbiotic really encapsulates the pairing between artists and community,” Walsh said. “We were thinking about that relationship and how reliant the art world is on collaboration.”

Intersections between artists and mediums produce conceptually profound works, said artist Adam Lanman, who helped install the exhibit.

“I pitched the idea to the students, who developed it into an interesting and thoughtful installation,” Lanman said.

Among the show’s variety of media and thematic approaches, Lanman and his group of students created “The Community Table,” an installation revolving around balance.

“We decided to make the table like a seesaw, so it’s physically having to balance the difference between both ends,” said junior visual arts student Reva Kashikar.

Junior Rebecca Curtis said “The Community Table” reflects the ups and downs of artistic endeavors.

“Some opportunities for artists are easily accessible, but the reward is not that great,” Curtis said. “On the other end of the table, we wanted to represent rare opportunities for artists that are more fulfilling yet difficult to accomplish.”

Symbiotic favors inviting, universally meaningful pieces over ambiguous concepts. Sterling Smith, a senior in the program, said the audience is key in determining how to present clear ideas.

“As artists, we have to reformulate our ideas to communicate with our audiences,” Smith said.

While the installations are temporary, Symbiotic has created enduring connections between burgeoning artists and experienced professionals.

“The piece itself is a great accomplishment, but meeting young artists and introducing them to new ideas and prospects as been the most important part of this experience. I can safely say I’d work with these students again,” Lanman said. “In fact, I’m already thinking of some projects I can put them to work on.”

Symbiotic runs through Oct. 28 in OU’s Lightwell Gallery in the School of Visual Arts on the OU campus, 520 Parrington Oval, in Norman. Visit art.ou.edu.

Print headline: Symbiotic craft, OU students team up with area artists to create an art installation. 

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