Oklahoma Contemporary
A man with a microphone sits next to a woman with long, gray hair on a stage. The screen behind them reads "SHELTER."

New Light

May 07, 2024

Artist Talk: SHELTER

A person with long gray curly hair stands in front of a dark gray wall with black text and a white bench. They are smiling, wearing a dark patterned shirt, dark teal vest and dark blue pants.

Lisa Karrer

“A lot of people in this audience may not realize they have been through periods of displacement”

For the opening of SHELTER, an exhibition exploring the lives of displaced peoples across the world, interdisciplinary artist Lisa Karrer gave an intimate and moving Artist Talk, moderated by Sam Wargin Grimaldo and later joined by audio narrators and video participants Salvatore Ontiveros and Sang Rem. The Te Ata Theater was filled with intentional moments, loving families and warm embraces of community. During the conversation, Karrer spoke of inspiration for the exhibition, her artistic practice and innovative use of "warm technology" and the similarities in shared stories and lived experiences from place to place.

“The thing is, every story you hear is an individual speaking to you,” Karrer said. “Oftentimes, the stories are very difficult to hear. But my job is to give people the space to tell their story. Everybody who has a story, there’s an equality in it because it’s an individual who is having this experience and they’re willing to share it.”

Featuring discrete “Stations” of miniaturized ceramic tents, huts and buildings, SHELTER comprises regionally specific dwellings inhabited by those seeking refuge in the face of displacement. Each Station contains an embedded audio soundtrack, featuring refugees speaking in their native language or in English, sharing narratives of their memories from home. Familiar video scenarios, portraying individuals and families going about their daily lives, are also projected onto the interior walls of the ceramic forms.

A person with long, gray hair stands to embrace a person with black hair. Two additional people are seated on the stage to their left.

SHELTER Artist Talk

Originally mounted at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Karrer’s hometown of Buffalo, New York in 2020–2021, SHELTER illuminated the relationship between the city of Buffalo and its refugee organizations that help displaced peoples to resettle in local communities. Oklahoma Contemporary presents an iteration of the exhibition that is recontextualized for Oklahoma audiences, including audio and video recordings of residents in Oklahoma who have experienced displacement and who, with generosity of spirit, give voice to their respective trajectories.

Watch the full Artist Talk below, and make time to visit and listen to the voices and lives of neighbors and community members, on view through Jan. 6, 2025.


View of SHELTER's Artist Talk with Lisa Karrer (right) and Sam Wargin Grimaldo (left). Photo: Rudolph Tolar.

Artist Lisa Karrer. Photo: Rudolph Tolar.

View of SHELTER's Artit Talk, including audio narrators and video participants Salvatore Ontiveros and Sang Rem. Photo: Rudolph Tolar.

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artist talk SHELTER opening ceramics multimedia contemporary art Exhibitions

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