Momentum Featured 60 Young Artists

Last week, University of Oklahoma journalism student Chelsea Childs contacted us to write an assignment about our Momentum event.  We asked to publish it on the blog since it’s great to see enthusiastic young writers covering art.  Thanks for sharing Chelsea. 

Guest Author: Chelsea Childs

Young emerging Oklahoma artists, selected by regional curators, gathered with supporters and musicians at a local venue Friday and Saturday evening to showcase their work to the public.
The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) has presented its annual event, Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still, for eleven years. It is an established starting point for young local artists less than 30 years of age to gain valuable recognition. This year’s event was held at 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. There was heavy competition with only 76 pieces accepted out of over 500 entries, according to OVAC Associate Director Kelsey Karper. The guidelines for the curators who judged the entries were based on subjective opinions about artwork quality according to the coalition’s website.
Momentum visitors examining Zach Burn’s artwork during the event
Photo by Rex Barrett
Outside the main artist entries, the Spotlightawards have been key components to the Momentum event for six years. The curators select Spotlight artists three months prior to the event taking into account the artists’ portfolios, experience and potential. The award includes a $2,000 budget to create works specifically for Momentum along with curatorial guidance during those three months.   
For the first time in Momentum’s history, the featured artists were selected by the art collective PLUG Projects out of Kansas City, MO. PLUG artists include Amy Kligman, Cory Imig, Misha Kligman, Caleb Taylor and Caitlin Horsmon, who worked together with emerging curator Taryn Chubb.

Matthew Kaney, Erin Latham and Zachary Presley received Spotlight awards. Though their works did not share an overall theme, curators suggested these three sought to tear down the divide between imagination and reality.  
Momentum visitors playing Matthew Kaney’s games in American ArcadePhoto by Rex Barrett
University of Oklahoma senior, Matthew Kaney, spent three months creating his project American Arcade. He said he felt ‘instant gratification’ at the sight of his combined efforts. Though confident with his work, the possibility of a game malfunctioning kept him on ‘electric edge’ during opening night, but he had little to fear by the end of the second night.

He said everything functioned well at 95 percent and is “the best I could reasonably expect from this kind of electronic-based work.”
His arcade games were styled in the 1980s-era and merged contemporary political issues with humorous elements in hopes of defusing possible tension in viewers. He said he did not feel he was courting controversy, but ultimately took a playful approach and wanted people to explore these issues rather than confront them.
Erin Latham, Photic Cingulus (detail), Paper and mixed media, dimensions variable
Erin Latham initially entered the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition as an intern in 2004. After being chosen for Spotlightnine years later, she was excited to be given such an opportunity.
Latham had spent two months adjusting and fabricating her three-dimensional exhibit, but the four days before opening night proved to concentrate the majority of her labor.
“I haven’t been scuba diving, but until I can, I created this,” said Latham.
Viewers were lured into the depths of her underwater kelp forest, named Photic Cingulus, with a strategic use of projected light. Her materials were non-toxic, reused and recycled. The viewers were immersed into the work without fear of being allowed to touch the pseudo environment. She said she likes to create that ‘wow factor’ and her goal was to connect with people who may never get to actually go scuba diving.
Zachary Presley, Toys & Types, Performance with mixed media
Spotlight artist Zachary Presley has always looked up to the Spotlightartists of past years, and said he was happy his performance, Toys & Types, was included.
Presley’s performance demonstrated the corporation mindset and portrayal of the label ‘Indian’. Born part Chickasaw and having traveled to trading posts along various trips to California, Presley has found the majority of foreign products falsely represent contemporary Native American life. He said it was the stereotypical merchandise that sparked his idea for a performance medium and demonstrating the persona of a plastic red Indian-like toy.
“Stereotypes kind of cast you into a role,” he said, just like the manufacturer cast the mold of the toys.
Presley said he has lived in other states for school and work purposes, but has never lived in an area with a community that supports the arts as much as the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. He said he is grateful to have been introduced to many Oklahoma artists he otherwise would have never met.
“OVAC has a good umbrella for the entire state,” he said.
Free gallery hours were March 5 through March 7 from 5-7 p.m. where artist items such as t-shirts, prints and jewelry are for sale at the Momentum Market at 50 Penn Place.

Digging Deep: Casey Pankey

Casey Pankey, Stillwater
Casey Pankey, Earth’s Child at Play, Wood, Earth, found objects, 64x29x16″
What was your concept and inspiration for these pieces?
The body of work I am currently focusing on is an autobiographical exploration of childhood memories. I use a variety or materials including wood, steel, plaster, and found objects to describe an emotional memory or activity. During my childhood, these activities or moments may have seemed whimsical, yet as an adult, I cannot avoid the bittersweet reaction I have when creating each piece.
Please explain the technique and process you used to create your Momentum work.
“Earth’s Child at Play” was a particularly fun piece to create. I remembered several occasions where I would dig large holes in my backyard. One such instance involved my brother and I digging a hole in my grandmother’s back yard. It was so large that he could stand in it and barely get back out. I thought “Why do kids do that? Why did we do that?” I took my two younger sisters outside and asked them to dig a hole while I photographed them. They were hesitant at first, but by the end, they were both happily covered in mud. I used these photographs for a series that I printed and wrote my memories of my own experience on. That piece is called “Digging.Because.”
This didn’t satisfy my question, though. So, I began a sculptural piece. Looking at the photographs, I noticed the lines that were created in the dirt by digging fingers. My first idea was that the sculpture needed to show this action and a sense of these lines. I wanted the piece to be somewhat decontexualized, therefore I put it on the wall (also partly because I remembered thinking back to my brother’s head poking out of the hole which made me laugh). 
Casey Pankey, Earth’s Child at Play (detail), Wood, Earth, found objects, 64x29x16″
I had a rough sketch of the basic end result, but I did not use a template. I began cutting rough shapes that I felt represented the interior of the hole. I decreased them in size until I felt it was finished. Then, I placed dirt on top to tie the piece back to the ground and allow for visual balance. Something was missing. It was not personal enough.
When we would dig holes in our own backyard, we would find really strange objects buried. We frequently found golf balls and once we found a shoe. So, I included these items in the center of the piece. They are hidden but if a viewer gets close enough, they can find them between the layers of wood. Finally, to maintain a natural wood grain, and simply to continue experimenting, I used white India ink as paint. I’m not sure I ever reached any level of understanding about why we dug holes, but I greatly enjoyed the exploration.
My favorite thing about this piece is that the moment people understand the story, many smile and tell me about their own memories of digging holes in their backyard as a kid.
Where else can audiences see your artwork?
My work may viewed online at
This artwork will be featured at Momentum OKC, opening March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Laying the Foundation: Lissie Teehee

Lissie Teehee, Edmond

Lissie Tehee, Steady, Boy, Pen on Paper, 30X22

What was your concept and inspiration for these pieces?
Teehee: I began this series with the intention of creating some subliminal message for my young daughter. The lines were intended as a base, situated as a horizon with colors or objects over the top, but I ended up exploring it much differently. 

I began to stubbornly fill large pages with the lines and in creating these foundations, I began to understand them as the foundational layers that make up our lives. Sometimes we are balanced and other times we are trying to find balance, but nonetheless we are always growing, with some foundation beneath our feet. Not only did these layers come to represent our lives, but I noticed that they were also very geological and even biological or cellular – all of those small parts made one big whole, and the possibilities were infinite.

Lissie Tehee, Steady, Boy (detail), Pen on Paper, 30X22

Please explain the technique and process you used to create your Momentum work.
Teehee: The pieces shown at Momentum were started with pen from the bottom and worked all the way up. They are very intuitive and I rarely have a set plan for them. There are more pieces in this series and in the last month or so I have begun to break out of the borders and start somewhere in the middle, and I am also working on a much larger scale. It is indeed one pen stroke at a time and the process is a calm and quiet one.

Lissie Tehee, The Climb, Pen on Paper, 30X22

Where else can audiences see your artwork?
Teehee: I plan on having this entire series finished to show by the end of spring. I am also in the process of creating a website of my own that will include any series I have done along with my sketchbooks, collage, and printmaking work, which should be up by the end of March.

This artwork will be featured at Momentum OKC, opening March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Haley Prestifilippo: Between Death and Life

Haley Prestifilippo, Norman

Haley Prestifilippo, It’s Just a Bed of Roses, Graphite on Paper, 4.25×3″ 

What was your concept and inspiration for these pieces that will be featured in Momentum?
Prestifilippo: In these pieces I use death as a device with which to question the connections between the real and the ethereal. Humans have always been interested in death. It is the final mystery, which we have sought to explain through both science and religion. Many recent technological and medical advancements have created new ways of thinking about the nature of death, often challenging once sacred views concerning the very essence of existence. 

The tension between the scientific world and the spiritual often translates into a strange sense of uncertainty, apathy, and resentment. Both seek the reality of life as fervently as the other, and we are often pressed to choose between them. We welcome the knowledge of science but desire the comfort of a life beyond death, while unsure if we can truly subscribe to both.

Haley Prestifilippo, It’s Just a Bed of Roses (detail) Graphite on Paper, 4.25×3″ 

I was always fascinated by the Dutch still lives depicting realistically painted piles of fruit and foods, often painted right alongside various dead game. This juxtaposition of this abundance and death was always very poignant to me. Similarly, I have also always been interested in the idea of a momento mori and the way they create this weird disjuncture of life with death. It’s as if your mind is simply taking in the beauty of an image, when it has a sudden violent realization that there is something dark, more meaningful to this image than just some simple bouquet of flowers, or whatever it might be. I was thinking about this type of imagery when I began creating these pieces. I have also always enjoyed drawing and painting animals, so they seem like a natural choice for depicting my ideas.

Haley Prestifilippo, Twins in the End (detail) Graphite on Paper, 4.25×3″ 

Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create your Momentum works.
Prestifilippo: These works are all graphite on paper. I generally start with a sketch, to work out the overall composition and basic idea of how this image is going to work on a piece of paper. From there, I then go to my ever increasing database of animal images – dead or sleeping animals – that I have collected through the internet, magazines, and just wherever I happen to find an image with an animal in a particular pose. I then use Photoshop to try to piece animals together in a way that fits with the basic compositional shape I am trying to achieve. 
From there, I often print out whatever preliminary image I’ve got, and sketch on top of that – adding in whatever extra elements I decide. Once I’ve got it all worked out, I then use the source image as the basis for my drawing – I usually try to stay close to my source image. Part of the fun is often trying to make it as small as possible while still retaining as much detail as possible.

Where else can audiences see your artwork?
Prestifilippo: Interested people can check out my blog, which has a few more of my recent pieces on it.

Momentum OKC  opens March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Music Heads: Timothy Hearne

Tim Hearne, Moore

Tim Hearne, MusicHead IV, Color Pencil/Pastel, 24×18  

What was your concepts and inspiration for this piece/these pieces?

Hearne: The Musichead piece is part of a group highlighting the fact that people who would be referred to as “music heads” can be found in all parts of society. It is slowly being expanded upon.
My definition comes from more of a hip-hop/rap perspective, like the person that is always following the mixtape scene for new artists, etc. It can apply to all genres though.

Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create your Momentum work.
I typically envision a rough idea of the pose needed in my head and then follow that up by looking for references that best fit it. This can be done via the web or my own photos.
This image, along with the other aspects of the piece, are then worked with via a “digital sketchbook” process to play with colors and composition before committing the idea to paper.
I work with dry mediums but I plan to introduce paint into some of my pieces as the year progresses. I also work more loosely from time to time as a sort of “break”.
Where else can audiences see your artwork? This page will also provide links to my Tumblr and Facebook (where I post most of my in progress photos).
Currently, I am working to continue my rap/hip-hop related portrait series for exhibition this summer at Exhibit by Aberson in Tulsa, OK.

This artwork will be featured at Momentum OKC, opening March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Between Civilization and Nature: Bill Zorn

Bill Zorn, Tulsa

Bill Zorn, On the Fence, Mixed Media-Fabric, print, paint, 24 x 12″ 

What was your concepts and inspiration for these pieces?
I am interested in life and death and the potential for immortality through art. Some animals are preserved as trophies, or memorials, while others are swept to the side of the road. As the freeway expands, the wilderness deflates. As society moves faster, distractions grow denser, and the thought of death can be neglected. Humans have made a culture of attempting to overcome nature, and the primal nature within themselves. My work investigates humanity’s curiosity and drive to collect life, or it’s husk, while confronting society’s silence and disregard for “civilization’s” debilitating effect on nature.

Wolves being hunted and hung as trophies and “pest deterrent” inspired On the Fence. As we encroach on their habitat, wolves hunt livestock and threaten farmer’s herds. Historically, farmers would raise campaigns to eradicate the ‘pest.’ They would hang their kills on their fences as a warning to other wolves. The hanging wolves were also thought a message for surrounding farmers that wolves preyed nearby and killed livestock. While it is hard to argue against a farmer’s livelihood, the situation is a problem humanity has created. My work investigates the shifting equilibrium between civilization and nature.

Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create your Momentum work.
Mixed media constructions support the idea of nature’s layers. Similar to an animal’s layers of fur, skin, and bone, fabric is printed and painted, gutted and turned inside out to reveal the most repulsive and intimate spaces and events. Collage allows the work to come together while still maintaining conflict, bringing both harmony and juxtaposition to the surface.

Where else can audiences see your artwork?
My thesis show, Do Not Resuscitate, will open February 28,- March 28, 2013 at the University of Tulsa, Phillips Hall, Alexandre Houge Gallery.

My work can be seen on my website,

This artwork will appear in Momentum OKC, opening March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Megan Curtis: Defining Stories

Megan Curtis, Stillwater

Megan Curtis, Exodus and the Frog Prince Portrait, Watercolor, Color Pencil, 30×22  

What are your concepts and inspirations for these pieces?
Curtis: This body of work is based on two separate biblical narratives and a child’s fairy tale  Genesis 19:26 (the death of Lot’s wife), Exodus 8:3 (the plague of frogs), and the fairy tale  “The Frog Prince.” I chose these stories for their trauma but also to examine the woman-inferior attitudes they reflect. We tell children stories like these to teach them morality, yet they tend to be inherently sexist, and as they are passed down from generation to generation, a woman-inferior attitude is passed down with them. Being both a feminist and a Christian, I wanted to tell these stories from the perspective of the women they portray, giving myself an ideal mechanism to express my concerns with this written tradition.

“Lot’s Wife” is based on Genesis 19:26, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” This is a perfect example of a common occurrence in the bible: a woman disobeys God (a man), and is swiftly and severely punished. I wanted to paint the exact moment she realizes she is dying, as if she were being swept away by wind. I used red and blue colors to mimic veins and muscle, and greys and blacks for bits of her skin and hair flaking away.

“Exodus and the Frog Prince Portrait” is based on Exodus 8:3, “The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed,” and the children’s fairytale, “The Frog Prince”. I chose to combine these stories into a single piece because of a striking parallel: in the original Frog Prince, a young girl must invite a frog into her bed, to sleep with her; in Exodus, frogs literally invade the beds of the Egyptians. In both stories, the most private, vulnerable, inner sanctum (the bed) is literally defiled (or raped) by frogs.

Megan Curtis, Lot’s Wife, Watercolor, Color Pencil, 45×28  

Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create your Momentum works.
Curtis: Both pieces I created with a predominantly wet-on-wet watercolor technique, adding small amounts of colored pencil in some areas for fine-detail work. Additionally, inspired by Lot’s wife turning into salt in the story, I dusted the entire Lot’s Wife piece with salt during the drying process. The use of salt not only literally ties the medium to the underlying narrative, but adds a unique textural quality to the piece.

Where else can audiences see your artwork?
Curtis: My website

This artwork will appear in Momentum OKC, opening March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Referencing Tradition: Elliott Robbins

Elliott Robbins, Muskogee

Elliott Robbins, Whistler’s Brother From Another Mother, Oil on Panel,  35×25″

What is your concept and inspiration for this piece in Momentum?
Robbins: My initial idea was to depict myself in a composition that referenced an older work of art and this project presented a nice opportunity to explore that. Here I choose to reference James Whistler’s “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1,” aka “Whistler’s Mother.” I really loved the simplicity and technique of that painting so in a way I set up my own painting based off of this reference material. 

Self-portraiture is something that I have been doing a lot of in my work recently so I thought it would be a good idea use that as well. Referencing older works of art is a recurring theme in my work, but unlike any other painting I’ve done this one most directly references a very well known pieces.

Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create this work.
Robbins: The painting is sort of a humorous homage to Whistler’s Mother. I painted it very traditionally and in certain areas distorted the form so that it made the figure look almost like a caricature or a cartoon. I was really trying to stylistically match artists like Whistler, and Sargent who would often time do paintings that looked very loose and impressionistic with a few crisp details in the face as the focal point of the piece. My hope with this painting is that people will walk away from this painting appreciating the humor in it.

Where else can audiences see your artwork?
Robbins: You can see more of my work on my Tumblr blog: and on my Blogspot page:

This artwork will appear in Momentum OKC, opening March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Layne Inselman: Lifeless Theatre

Layne Inselman, Norman 

Layne Inselman, Auditorium, Long Theatre (Keyes, OK), Digital Photograph, 16 x 20 

What is your concept and inspiration for this piece in Momentum?
Inselman: My photograph is of an abandoned and now-shabby movie theater in the panhandle of Oklahoma (the town of Keyes, to be precise). I spent a few years there as a kid and I traveled back there recently and explored some of the tarnished downtown area. All the chairs are gone from the auditorium, though it is still possible to make out the old screen used as a backdrop when they used to show movies there. 

I personally love the shot because I think it has that “dying small town” feel to it, plus the angle is the same angle you would view if you were to walk into the theatre to look for a seat some 30 years ago.

Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create this work.
Inselman: The print is of a digital photograph. It has been edited to black and white for three important reasons:
1. Compositionally, the stark lines of the wood frame and its shadows create interesting positive/negative relationships within the photograph.
2. Conceptually, the monochromatic image evokes a sense of yesteryear, as most films that were shown in this theater were likely in black and white themselves.
3. The colorlessness adds bleak and almost sorrowful emotions, which I personally think enhances the idea that what once used to be a gathering place for happy moviegoers is now all but destroyed.

Where else can audiences see your artwork?
Inselman: I am in the process of creating a website, but in the meantime I will post photographs from time to time on my Facebook page:

Maybe eventually you’ll be able to see my work in other galleries too!

Momentum OKC  opens March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

Plug Projects: Momentum Guest Curators

Momentum Guest Curators: Plug Projects Team 

OVAC welcomes Plug Projects as the guest curators for Momentum OKC.  

Plug Projects is a curatorial collaboration by five Kansas City artists, Amy Kligman, Misha Kligman, Caitlin Caitlin Horsmon, Cory Imig and Caleb Taylor, who share the mission of bringing fresh perspectives and conversation to the local art community. 

Founded in 2011, the group seeks  to energize artists and the public at large by exhibiting challenging new work, initiating critical dialogue, and expanding connections of artists in Kansas City as part of a wider, national network of artists. 

They already have been noticed nationally for their thoughtful work as they have introduced new avenues for engaging the community. Besides keen exhibitions, they have launched critique nights, a new art journal and thematic films series and have served as guest writers for a national publication, Temporary Art Review

You may see them at Momentum on March 1 and 2. Also, Plug Projects will visit the University of Oklahoma School of Art and Art History to give a lecture and visit MFA student studios on March 1. They will present a free talk at Artspace at Untitled on March 2 at 3 pm. 

Momentum OKC  opens March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at