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OU Student Art Show
Winning piece reflects mid-20th century hope for America

JOHN BRANDENBURG
For The Oklahoman
Modified: January 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013
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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.”

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