STILLWATER — Several Oklahoma State University students are teaming with an Oklahoma-born artist for a project that's set to become a campus fixture.
Students from OSU's art department are collaborating with Brooklyn-based artist Yatika Fields on a 10-panel mural that university officials expect to place in the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts.
Fields, a Stillwater native, has been working with students via Skype conferences and other social media sites. The students have been working on the first phases of the project, he said, including laying base coat and painting the larger shapes.
Fields will be at OSU on Friday to complete the project during a live painting event. During that event, Fields and the students will complete the mural's final details and turn the 10 panels into one cohesive work.
The artists will be joined by an ensemble from OSU's music department that will perform composer Terry Riley's 1964 work “In C,” an early minimalist piece that makes heavy use of repetitive patterns.
Although live painting events may be relatively new in Oklahoma, Fields said the technique isn't uncommon. The idea is to bring the spontaneous aesthetic found in street art into a studio.
Events such as this one are good for student artists because they get the artists out of the studio and teach them confidence.
Painting requires that the artist be comfortable with movement and feeling, he said. Above all, he said, artists must be able to trust themselves.
“I think it's a good way of teaching that,” he said.
Anna Rutherford, an OSU student, has been working with a team of students on one of the panels. The group completed the panel's larger shapes, then added a few smaller shapes and whorls, she said.
“It's kind of like working from the ground up,” she said.
The project is the first one of its kind Rutherford has been involved with. It's been a good experience, she said.
Several artists are working on the project, and each brings a different set of ideas and perspectives for how the project could be done, she said. That can make it difficult to decide on a direction to take the project, she said.
“It's definitely a challenge, but we made it work,” she said.
Besides the live painting event, Fields is planning a mural for a new OSU art museum. The university is renovating Postal Plaza, a historic building in downtown Stillwater, to use as a gallery to house the university's permanent art collection. Officials expect to open the building later this year.
Fields' mural will be adjacent to an existing mural in the building, painted in 1963 by artist Grace Hamilton. The existing mural shows a history of the settlement of Stillwater and the surrounding area, including the displacement of the American Indians who were here at the time.
Although he doesn't have any definite plans for what to include in his mural, Fields plans to show a more modern view of what Oklahoma is.
Fields, a member of the Osage, Cherokee and Creek nations, said the depiction of American Indians will likely be different. In the existing panel, American Indians are shown riding horses and living in tepees.
“That won't be in there,” he said.
Much has changed in Oklahoma since the original mural was painted, he said. Stillwater itself has grown considerably since 1963, and Fields said he expects to show that difference in his mural.
“It's kind of like the old to the new,” he said.
“Live Painting with Yatika Fields” will be at 6 p.m. Friday at the OSU Student Union.