Studio School brings expanded arts education experiences to the community
Beyond blockbuster exhibitions and world-class arts programming, Oklahoma Contemporary’s new downtown home, opening in March, will herald a bold new phase in the organization’s educational initiative — a central part of its mission since launching as City Arts Center at the State Fairgrounds in 1989.
Studio School is the next chapter of that story. Representing both a continuation and a dramatic expansion of Oklahoma Contemporary’s educational programs, Studio School will offer classes and workshops for adults and teens year-round. Taught by experienced art educators and university faculty, classes will provide a creative outlet as well as an opportunity to learn and expand skills, improve techniques and experiment with familiar and new media.
“We have existing strengths in ceramics and fiber, and those will continue to be large offerings among our new courses in other media,” said Adrienne Lalli Hills, associate director of Studio School. “At this moment, we’re kind of in a space where what we’re going to offer is contingent on what the creative community comes up with — what they want to teach.”
Those expanded offerings run the gamut from 2- and 3-D art to digital media, performance, photography and more. With more than 50 classes and workshops scheduled for spring 2020 alone, Studio School is one of the most robust and diverse stables of community-focused arts education opportunities in the state.
Much of the magic will happen in The Studios, a renovated historic warehouse adjacent to our new building at NW 11th and Broadway. With new facilities and equipment in both that space and our new main building, Studio School will offer 10-week sessions (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer) of broadened course options, including opportunities to work outside of a structured class through Directed Independent Studio and Open Studio.
Taught by experienced art educators and university faculty, classes will provide a creative outlet as well as an opportunity to learn and expand skills, improve techniques and experiment with familiar and new media.
Oklahoma City-based artist Calvin Pressley, who will teach courses on drawing and painting in the spring, sees Studio School as an opportunity to encourage experimentation and the development of an individual artistic voice. “I want to inspire my students to push themselves to learn whatever technical skills they might want to achieve, but to always engage with their own perspective and not try to just re-create something they’ve seen before. I want to inspire them to reach for something new.”
Lalli Hills and the Studio School staff are working with instructors like Pressley to meet students where they are while offering the opportunity to take their skills to the next level. “There are a number of engagement points for beginners, with a chance to advance,” she said. “We’re trying to build something that’s wide on the front end, but really deep as you as you go in, so that we can support folks’ longitudinal learning.”
That same impulse informs Studio School’s mission to serve a wide range of participants, from teenagers to seniors and all points in between. Local retiree and veteran Bob Bondaruk has been taking ceramics classes at Oklahoma Contemporary since 2018, and he’s looking forward to Studio School’s expanded offerings as a way to continue a lifelong love of learning.
“I didn’t want to retire to the chair and watch TV. Because statistically, if you retire to that chair, you die in five years,” he said. “But [Studio School] gets people out of that chair. It gets them to get back into productivity, and gets them back out on the world again.”
With deep and diverse offerings geared toward people from all walks of life and experience levels, Studio School is poised to become the anchor of community arts education in Oklahoma City. For a full list of classes — including information on registration, member discounts, instructor applications and more — click here.