2012 Fellowship Curator Statement

July 16, 2012


Allison Peters Quinn, 

Director of Exhibitions, Hyde Park Art Center
The Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowship is one of the unique awards that celebrates artists with high quality work and outstanding vision, which most importantly highlights the artist’s ability to push contemporary art forward with innovative approaches to media and concepts. Without awards like this, artists might not be able to take much-needed risks in their practice leading to exceptional work. 

In addition to these important criteria, prized contributions to contemporary art must be both visually interesting and cause us to think about current issues while learning from the artist’s perspective proposed in the work.  The four artists receiving the 2012 Fellowships and Student Awards of Excellence accomplish all of the above in sculpture, painting, drawing, film and new media, presenting a wide spectrum of the intelligent work being produced in Oklahoma now.

The one thing the artists Matthew Boonstra, Angie Piehl, Tara Najd Ahmadi and Jessica Tankersley have in common is that there is nothing regional about their artwork.  Although each artist is at a different stage in their career, they are all tackling complex global topics successfully in their own style that allows the viewer to relate on a personal level.  

Jessica Tankersley, In Between Points, Electronic Sculpture, 8′ x 14′ x 23″, 2011In Between Points attempts to materially map the time spent between points on a path.The motors only turn when photo-resistors sense an object or person in front of them. The accumulation of paper in between platforms maps the time they spend at each point.

Undergraduate artist, Jessica Tankersley’s fearless experiments in computer gadgetry apply her rewired circuits and the software programs she writes to kinetic sculpture unlike any I’ve seen before.  The comparison she raises between organic biology and rapidly growing technology, such as social media, shows much promise for future artwork from this emerging artist. 

Measuring the Level of Resistance from Tara Najd Ahmadi on Vimeo.

The time-based work of graduate student artist Tara Najd Ahmadi is equally as noteworthy for its honesty in openly delving into the personal and political history of the artist’s Iranian roots. Ahmadi presents a sensational cinematic language all her own splicing sequences of puppetry, archival footage and performed gestures that enable her to tell a powerful story forever etched in our memory (after seeing it) as well as hers.

Matthew Boonstra, Manufacturing Sympathies
Iron shavings, magnets, steel, plaster, video projection, 2009.

Matthew Boonstra’s mixed media installations and sculptures poignantly address the human fallout resulting from the decline of American industry. Evocative of the great pop artist, George Segal depiction of the depression, Boostra’s present-day figures in iron shavings are haunting and call much deserved attention to the millions of lives devastated by the current economic crisis.

Angela Piehl, Headdress, White pencil on black paper, 22″ x 30″, 2010

Finally, the impressive amount of detail in Angie Piehl’s drawings and paintings bring the fetish to life and seduce us with their display of discipline and indulgence. Her work contributes to the ongoing conversation in contemporary art by artists like Cathy de Monchaux and Megan Greene that questions gender roles and assumptions with a playfully dark edge. 

All of the 2012 fellowship artists present work that is extremely current, forward-thinking, and in dialogue with the thoughts and ideas contemporary artists around the world are addressing in different ways.  Their distinctive style and mastery of their medium adds a breath of fresh air to the discussion. 
The Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowship is supported in part by Allied Arts, the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, and many donors through the 12×12 Art Fundraiser. Artists may apply annually for this open merit-based award.