Momentum: Art Doesn't Stand Still
How do you help young artists start careers in Oklahoma? That was a question the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) posed to a group of young artists and volunteers twelve years ago. They came up with Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still–an annual art exhibition created specifically for Oklahoma artists ages 30 and younger, working in different media and living all across the state.
“It’s a way for them to get started in the art world, by gaining some exhibition experience, getting familiar with showing their work to the public and speaking about their work so that they have something to build on—a place to begin,” says Kelsey Karper, OVAC associate director.
Edmond-raised Amy Coldren had work featured in Momentum for two consecutive years. “Momentum gives young artists a hands-on learning experience of being in a well-attended, well-respected, juried art show,” she says. “It was an honor to be included among such talented artists, but it’s also encouraging ... to see those artists choosing to stay and pursue their work here.”
At the first Momentum, hosted at the Stage Center, no one knew what to expect. Around 300 people attended the inaugural event. Now, Momentum averages around 2,000 attendees and 100 artists. In recent years, they’ve added an exhibition in Tulsa to help serve artists in that part of the state. “[Momentum] was in response to a specific need that we saw. People were ready for it; they were excited about it! Artists were eager to participate,” Karper says.
Momentum has showcased a broad range of up-and-coming artists including painters, photographers, sculptors, performing artists, dancers, filmmakers, and more.
Last year, the event had a “shadow art” station, where attendees were invited to cut shadow puppets out of construction paper and projected them on a screen for all to see. “The emphasis on the interactive—really engaging the audience while they’re there—is another reason why so many people love Momentum,” Karper states. Another year, attendees were able to collaborate on a large mural. “They come up with something different every year,” she says.
Planning such a large-scale event always presents challenges. “It’s a lot of work coordinating, and holding it in a nontraditional gallery space certainly has its challenges as well.” This year’s location is yet to be determined, but in past years it has been hosted in the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market and various empty buildings around the metro.
Although 30 is the age cap, there is no minimum age for submissions. One year, a 5-year-old photographer submitted his work and the curators chose it for the exhibition. “They had no idea who had done it, and it got in on its own merit. And it sold,” Karper says. What do curators look for? “The quality of the work, strength of ideas behind the work, and clear, clean presentation.”
“Momentum is a great way to be a part of something much bigger than me, to meet other artists and to see what they are doing,” says Ramsey Walcher, Edmond resident and University of Central Oklahoma graduate. “It is important to me to try to stay plugged into the art community here in Oklahoma. Momentum is just one way of doing that.”
“My experiences at Momentum have helped me grow as an artist. It always pushes me to be better, to work more, to find inspiration,” Walcher says.
“We’ll continue to grow and continue to serve young emerging artists in Oklahoma,” Karper predicts. “And because it is so driven by the committee of volunteers, I think that we will continue to stay fresh, relevant and responsive to what young artists of that time need.”
“There are great opportunities here in Oklahoma, and the arts community is so supportive,” Coldren says. “I think Momentum celebrates those things really well.”
Momentum OKC 2013 is March 1-2, and the deadline has already passed for submissions. To submit art for next year, fill out an entry form at momentumoklahoma.org. An artist can submit up to three pieces each year.