Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowships and Student Awards of Excellence 2016
May 17, 2016
As an undergraduate, I sat through countless art history classes, cocooned in a darkened room and lulled by the hum of the slide projector, as a professor clicked from one image to the next. As intellectually-stimulating as those classes were, they could never compete with seeing the real thing. Screen-mediated art consumption is tricky and ultimately unfulfilling, yet it is not without its merits. If an object is so compelling on a screen that you feel driven to seek it out—to stand in front of it, to dig deeper, to discover its intricacies—then something must be right. This is precisely what each of the four artists selected for the 2016 Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Fellowship and Student Awards accomplished with their submissions.
As I reviewed more than one hundred applications, I was moved by the overall dark tenor of the work presented, as many of the artists offered a bleak perspective on our current moment. This year’s awardees— Lynette Atchley, Andy Mattern, Nicholas Enevoldsen, and Lucas Simmons, —strike that chord with impressive nuance and intellect, as well as an occasional dose of much-needed humor. These artists also demonstrated remarkable technical skill, good material sensibility, and an ability to articulate their motives and influences in writing.
Lynette Atchley’s work imagines a collision between the human and animal worlds that is at once witty and deeply disturbing. Her cheeky and strangely beautiful porcelain tableware and bizarre mise-en-scènes elicit laughs—even before you know what is funny.
The increasingly complex relationship between humans and technology was a recurring theme among the applications. Andy Mattern highlights banal realities of everyday existence—for example, using multiple remote controls for one television—that have morphed into “problems” as a result of our reliance on technology. With a Warholian aptitude for elevating the mundane, Mattern achieves a studied abstraction that is rarely so successful in photography.
Nicholas Enevoldsen deftly balances absurdity and solemnity in his intensely psychological paintings and drawings. Although he claims that he is driven by personal concerns, Enevoldsen’s portraits, urban landscapes, and surrealist tableaux poignantly manifest collective unease about identity, personhood, and the future of the global community.
An overwhelming majority of the submissions this year grappled with environmental change and humans’ treatment (and mistreatment) of natural resources. Lucas Simmons’s impeccable draftsmanship and seductive compositions belie his grotesque imagery. His scathing commentary on contemporary consumerism turns the mirror back on the viewer, forcing us to reexamine our own routines and consumption.
Congratulations to the four awardees, and thank you to all of the individuals who bravely offered up pieces of themselves in the name of art.
Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Easy Related Posts
2015 Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowships & Student Awards of Excellence
Congratulations to the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition on an outstanding showing for its Artist Fellowships ...read more
Announcing the OVAC Fellowship & Student Awards: Curatorial Statement
Art is a notoriously nebulous activity. Success is a continuum that ebbs and flows and ...read more
OVAC Fellowship Winner 2012: Angie Piehl
Meet one of the 2012 Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition Fellowship winners, Angie Piehl. Fellowship winners ...read more
2012 Fellowship Curator Statement
Allison Peters Quinn, Director of Exhibitions, Hyde Park Art CenterThe Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowship is one ...read more