A sculpture that evokes the “custom-car culture” of mid-20th century America with a deft economy of means has won the top $1,000 cash prize in the University of Oklahoma student show at Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave.
Three white, stylized gear-like shapes, with pink-violet decorations and chrome grilles or vents, thrust up from a rounded white base in “Shift,” the Oscar Jacobson Award-winning work by Illinois graduate student Christopher Fleming.
Instead of offering viewers “a shallow farce of a nonexistant utopian history,” Fleming said his work tries to express the “hope that America may one day become, or return to, the thriving wonderland everyone so fondly remembers.”
Winning the $800 T. G. Mays Purchase Award was Tulsa senior Jessica Tankersley for “Coordinate Retriever,” which she described as “an interactive briefcase that prints a set of coordinates in the form of longitude and latitude.”
Elements in Tankerley’s almost absurd work include an open, object-filled briefcase and a video with earphones in which a “character named “Sapphira” tries to “retrieve portal coordinates” for clients wishing “to traverse the multiverse.”
Much more straightforward — and powerful — is “Pantokrator,” a mixed media depiction of the heroic head of a black man, meeting our gaze intently, as he gestures with open hands, by Muskogee senior Elliott Robbins.
Robbins won the $600 FJJMA Museum Association Award for the charcoal, oil paint and shellac work on a gessoed, wrinkled, roughly textured, roughly rectangular newspaper surface, hung with nails through grommet holes.
Multiple small picture frames, attached to each other, seem to stretch out across the wall, like a dark brown accordion, in “Framing II,” a work by Spencer Ulm which won one of two $500 John R. Potts Jr. Sculpture Awards.
Describing it as “an approach to portraiture,” Ulm, a Holdenville graduate student, said his “arrangement of frames” was “assembled to create a structure that focuses more upon the internal construction than the external form.”
Receiving the other $500 Potts Sculpture Award was Norman junior Rani Cozad for “Home Sweet Hive,” a work which combines both geometric and organic elements. Bulging out from the wall like a bizarre beehive, made out of multiple, shield-like shapes, coated with a wax or honey-like substance, Cozad said her creation tries to “explore the uncharted realm between organization and chaos.”
Additional memorable works were contributed by Matthew Kaney, who won one of two $250 Norman Arts Council Awards, and by Jessica Wilson, who won one of two $400 FJJMA Docent Awards. Kaney’s literally “Self-Burning Book” offers us a wry commentary on the “relationship between technology and information,” and the risk of having “data stored on remote servers isolated from our immediate control.” Basing her work on an automobile company’s advertising slogan, Wilson creates a “hanging steel sculpture” that “resembles a waving…flag comprised of Chevrolet emblems,” car names and old family photographs.
Guest judged by Tony Tiger, art director at Bacone College in Muskogee, the ninety-ninth annual OU School of Art and Art History Exhibition is recommended viewing during its run through Feb. 10. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays; and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Admission is free due to a gift from the OU Athletics Department. Call 325-3272 or visit the website at www.ou.edu/fjjma for information.