By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) has selected award winners for 2018. The awards total $11,000 given to Oklahoma artists.
Each year OVAC issues four major awards: two Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowship awards at $5000 and two Student Awards of Excellence at $500. These awards are intended to recognize past achievement and future promise and can be used as the artists’ needs require.
National curator Mark Scala made the selections for this year’s awards, which give exposure to Oklahoma talent to curators across the nation.
Out of 64 entries, Scala selected Tulsans Devin Howell and Audrey Wells as this year’s Student Awards of Excellence recipients.
Ginna Dowling of Oklahoma City and Jordan Vinyard of Mustang have each been honored with the Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowship award.
Scala is the chief curator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee. His major exhibitions have focused on human vulnerability, complexity, and transformation in art from around the world. Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art (2015) explored the subjects of loss and remembrance in contemporary art. Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination (2012) was an international survey focused on the hybrid body in folklore, science fiction, and genetic engineering. Paint Made Flesh (2009) was a compilation of expressionistic figure painting in the U.S., Germany, and Britain since World War II.
Scala has organized solo exhibitions on artists such as Harmony Korine, Guido van der Werve, Inka Essenhigh, Gregory Barsamian, U-Ram Choe, Angelo Filomeno, Mike Hoolboom, Simen Johan, and Tokihiro Sato. Scala is currently organizing Chaosand Awe: Painting for the 21st Century, an international survey of artists who convey a sense of anxiety and sublimity arising from the contemplation of an increasingly unstable social imaginary.
Ginna Dowling is a contemporary printmaker, installation artist, and visual storyteller. An Oklahoma City native and the fifth woman artist in three consecutive generations, Dowling received her MFA from the University of Oklahoma. Her work focuses on the use of symbols, visual references, and layers that convey a literal or symbolic story.
Her current work includes an international collaborative installation project exploring identity and community.
Dowling said, “The content within my work conveys a story – allegorically, figuratively, symbolically, and literally – about the spirit of individuals and the communities they live in.”
Jordan Vinyard’s kinetic sculptures, installations, and performances satirize the human form with the “alchemizing effects” of technology. Vinyard received her MFA from Florida State University and has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at The International Symposium of Electronic Arts in Dubia; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson; and Art Basel, Miami. She is an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where she teaches installation, sculpture, performance, and bio-art. Recently, with her university she launched Art Wrecker Studios, an off- campus gallery exhibiting interdisciplinary and hybridized forms art.
A first generation Cuban American, Devin Howell is currently pursuing her MFA in painting at the University of Tulsa. She incorporates experiences from her childhood in Florida, as well as her fathers’ childhood in Cuba as painting inspirations for her current body of work.
Audrey Wells is pursuing a Bachelor in Fine Arts with a minor in Art History at the University of Tulsa. Her current emphasis is in ceramics, stating that her “love for the clay medium is what really drives me”. Natural forms such as the human body find their way into her work creating pieces that are raw and rugged, which she says are most satisfying to her as an artist.
Regarding this year’s award winners, Scala wrote, “The spectrum of submissions ran from well-crafted, beautiful objects that do little to expand our ways of seeing to works that propose exciting new interactions with a world undergoing radical transformation.
“With assuredness and inventiveness, these artists illustrate four distinct models for negotiating life’s paradoxes. I thank them, and all those who participated, for allowing me to see this compelling sampling of contemporary art in Oklahoma,” he added.
OVAC creates opportunities in the visual arts through publications, educational programs and annual exhibitions. Dedicated to its mission of supporting individual artists, the Coalition encourages professional excellence through grants, seminars, and a virtual gallery.
OVAC supports visual artists living and working in Oklahoma and promotes public interest and understanding of the arts.
For more information about OVAC, visit ovac-ok.org.