Oklahoma Contemporary

Media Release

Artists convey intergenerational pain and hope in new Oklahoma Contemporary exhibition

November 01, 2022
Fiber and ceramic artworks hang and stand in a gallery with a gray wall that says in cursive "Fugitive Speech"

Contact: Lori Brooks | 405 951 0000 | lbrooks@okcontemp.org
Media kit: bit.ly/OC_FugitiveSpeech

Fugitive Speech opens in Oklahoma Gallery on Nov. 3

Opening Nov. 3, Oklahoma Contemporary’s newest exhibition, Fugitive Speech, explores acts of personal testimony in the face of social, cultural and historical odds. Through textiles, ceramics, photography and video, artists Emily M. Chase, JJJJJerome Ellis and Anita Fields consider the relationship between voice, memory and time.

A dissolving human form floats on a black background

Fugitive Speech features artworks by three artists that utilize images, symbols and language to generate distinct approaches toward recalling and recovering intergenerational stories,” says Associate Curator Pablo Barrera. “The Central Plains region is home to diverse communities, each with an inheritance of memories that endures due to individual or collective efforts at recognition.”

Together, the exhibition’s seven works suggest the existence of intergenerational pain and hope. “The artists in Fugitive Speech create works that bear witness to realities that may be missing from our shared understanding and experiences,” Barrera says.

Chase’s textile works involve layers of sheer fabric reverse-dyed with images of floating, barely-there bodies. The resulting disembodied, doubled shapes evoke injury or cognitive loss, suggesting how memory — a full corporeal experience — is affected by mental and physical health.

A video by Ellis features “erasure poems” made from historic documents relating to enslaved Black people said to have had speech impediments like his own. He excerpts text from an 18th century newsletter requesting a person’s recapture, overlaying the words with an original score and footage of the artist conducting ceremonies honoring his “ancestors’” journey to freedom in the Central Plains.

Ceramic sculptures by Fields, who is Osage, are embedded with inherited Indigenous cultural symbols using ceramic seals. Utilizing the language of these heirloom designs, the surfaces are charged with tribal histories related to the transmission and loss of knowledge.

“This exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which artistic communities, especially within Oklahoma, embrace the intersection of craft, visual and literary arts in order to celebrate unsung voices past and present,” Barrera says.

Fugitive Speech runs in the Mary LeFlore Clements Oklahoma Gallery through April 30, 2023.

A media kit featuring the press release, artist bios and high-resolution images can be found at bit.ly/OC_FugitiveSpeech. Interviews with the artists, curators and Oklahoma Contemporary staff can be organized through Lori Brooks (lbrooks@okcontemp.org). Past press releases and information are archived at oklahomacontemporary.org/media.

About Oklahoma Contemporary
At the new, state-of-the-art Oklahoma Contemporary, visitors explore art and creativity through exhibitions, performances and a wide variety of educational programs. At its core, the multidisciplinary contemporary arts organization is an inclusive space. Exhibitions and most programs are free. You are always welcome here.

In addition to the 8,000 square feet of galleries for visual art, Oklahoma Contemporary’s new downtown home includes a flexible theater, a dance studio and nine classrooms for Camp Contemporary and Studio School. The 4.6-acre grounds also include The Studios, a renovated warehouse that houses ceramics, fiber, painting, printmaking and sculpture classes. Campbell Art Park, our Sculpture Garden and North Lawn lend outdoor space for exhibitions, programs and performances.

After providing contemporary art experiences of all kinds for 30 years at the State Fairgrounds, these new, centrally located facilities dramatically increase Oklahoma Contemporary’s capacity to meet growing demand for arts and culture across our city, state and region.

Oklahoma Contemporary is a regional 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by businessman and philanthropist Christian Keesee and Kirkpatrick Foundation Director Marilyn Myers.

Images: Installation view of Fugitive Speech, including works by Anita Fields. Photo: Cassandra Watson.

Emily M. Chase, Amnesia (Antergrade), 2021. Cotton sateen and silk organza screenprinted and sprayed with dye remover.


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Visit us at 11 NW 11th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

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