This exhibition is about secrets that a city holds, not specifically Oklahoma City, but urban life in general. I asked eight artists to interpret the concept of the secret life of the city and make one piece of art using digital media. Each artist sent me a PDF file of art, which was printed in sections on color copy paper, then wheatpasted on to birch plywood.
Kathleen Shannon employed an astrological reading of Oklahoma City as her inspiration, based upon the city’s founding date, to see what the stars reveal about our destiny. Her piece resonates by boldly providing the mantra: In these things we know our secrets.
Erin DeMoss marries a mixture of science fiction, pop culture, and alternative philosophical perspectives that connect with every bit of my inner geek: Doctor Who, Serenity, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and others referenced subtly in an alternate universe that could be the very underground space you occupy right now.
Dylan Bradway and Stephanie Shilling both approached the concept with introspection, turning inward to create art about the longings to connect. Stephanie encourages us to be more engaged with each other while Dylan prods our community to value the creative well spring our city holds. While their aesthetics are radically different each ultimately nudges us to be more engaged.
Kris Kanaly and Jason Pawley both derived inspiration from the secret urban environment surrounding us. Jason’s re-envisioning of abandoned and empty spaces into a beautifully executed pattern of color and line shows the power of artists to transform our collective experience in creative ways. After all, while many people would consider the location of the source material to be an eyesore, no one could make such a claim of the final results. And Kris gives us a treasure trove of insight into the secrets of street art in a piece that as a whole transcends any of the individual components that make up the photo collage. He has played the dual roles of documentarian and artist to provide us with an inkling of OKC’s street art culture of which most of us are unaware.
Paul Mays advocates for the secret hidden in plain sight, food and our relationship to it, with a cleanly executed illustration of edible vegetation growing all over the city. His art, highly influenced by his work within the sustainability movement, is a comfortable reminder to us all to stop eating garbage.
And finally, Sam Washburn’s humorous approach to the city filled with non-human animals is a delightfully engaging piece. As in Kris’ art, Sam has given us many little details to discover. And like Erin, Sam constructed an alternate universe. There is a quality to his illustration that is comfortable and familiar as if from a children’s book, but it is not as simple as that, for Sam’s art is easy enough for children to appreciate, but complex enough for adults to spend time contemplating.
Working with these eight artists on this exhibition has been a great joy, and I am thrilled with each of them for giving viewers these radically different experiences with art and secrets.
So what do you think about when you consider the secret life of the city?
Use the hashtag #OKCsecretlife to share your thoughts about the artwork or the concept.
This exhibition was presented by Downtown OKC, Inc.