Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still


How do you help young artists
start careers in Oklahoma? That was a question the Oklahoma Visual Arts
Coalition (OVAC) posed to a group of young artists and volunteers twelve years
ago. They came up with Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still–an annual art
exhibition created specifically for Oklahoma artists ages 30 and younger,
working in different media and living all across the state.

“It’s a way for them to get
started in the art world, by gaining some exhibition experience, getting
familiar with showing their work to the public and speaking about their work so
that they have something to build on—a place to begin,” says Kelsey Karper,
OVAC associate director.

Edmond-raised Amy Coldren had
work featured in Momentum for two consecutive years. “Momentum gives young
artists a hands-on learning experience of being in a well-attended,
well-respected, juried art show,” she says. “It was an honor to be included
among such talented artists, but it’s also encouraging … to see those artists
choosing to stay and pursue their work here.”

At the first Momentum, hosted at
the Stage Center, no one knew what to expect. Around 300 people attended the
inaugural event. Now, Momentum averages around 2,000 attendees and 100 artists.
In recent years, they’ve added an exhibition in Tulsa to help serve artists in
that part of the state. “[Momentum] was in response to a specific need that we
saw. People were ready for it; they were excited about it! Artists were eager
to participate,” Karper says.

Momentum has showcased a broad
range of up-and-coming artists including painters, photographers, sculptors,
performing artists, dancers, filmmakers, and more.

Last year, the event had a
“shadow art” station, where attendees were invited to cut shadow puppets out of
construction paper and projected them on a screen for all to see. “The emphasis
on the interactive—really engaging the audience while they’re there—is another
reason why so many people love Momentum,” Karper states. Another year,
attendees were able to collaborate on a large mural. “They come up with
something different every year,” she says.

MomentumPlanning such a large-scale
event always presents challenges. “It’s a lot of work coordinating, and holding
it in a nontraditional gallery space certainly has its challenges as well.”
This year’s location is yet to be determined, but in past years it has been
hosted in the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market and various empty buildings
around the metro.

Although 30 is the age cap,
there is no minimum age for submissions. One year, a 5-year-old photographer
submitted his work and the curators chose it for the exhibition. “They had no
idea who had done it, and it got in on its own merit. And it sold,” Karper
says. What do curators look for? “The quality of the work, strength of ideas
behind the work, and clear, clean presentation.”

“Momentum is a great way to be a
part of something much bigger than me, to meet other artists and to see what
they are doing,” says Ramsey Walcher, Edmond resident and University of Central
Oklahoma graduate. “It is important to me to try to stay plugged into the art
community here in Oklahoma. Momentum is just one way of doing that.”

“My experiences at Momentum have
helped me grow as an artist. It always pushes me to be better, to work more, to
find inspiration,” Walcher says.   

“We’ll continue to grow and
continue to serve young emerging artists in Oklahoma,” Karper predicts. “And
because it is so driven by the committee of volunteers, I think that we will
continue to stay fresh, relevant and responsive to what young artists of that
time need.”

“There are great opportunities
here in Oklahoma, and the arts community is so supportive,” Coldren says. “I
think Momentum celebrates those things really well.”


Momentum OKC 2013 is March 1-2,
and the deadline has already passed for submissions. To submit art for next
year, fill out an entry form at An artist can submit up
to three pieces each year. 

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