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Northwestern Today: Visual Arts

By Caitlin Hofen

“There are two distinct languages. There is the verbal, which separates people… and there is the visual that is understood by everybody.”- Yaacov Agam

The expansion of the Visual Arts Department has grown at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, allowing students to not only express their passions but be exposed to new opportunities that weren’t available a decade ago.

“There’s been a direct correlation between the students’ work and seeing a professional artist come to campus. They see the work ethic that is involved in creating a body of work in a very short amount of time,” said Kyle Larson, Director of Visual Arts.

A native of Sacramento, Calif., Larson obtained his undergraduate degree from California State University, Sacramento, with a double major in English and Art. He later obtained his Master’s degree in Visual Arts from there as well. He then attended Boston University, studying under the British artist John Walker, and obtained his Masters of Fine Arts degree.

“I actually did the Artist-in-Residence program here at Northwestern in August and September of 2014. I really enjoyed my time here and was very productive. When my predecessor – Professor Yoshimoto – stepped down, I applied. I got the job and moved down here to teach in 2015.”

The Artist-in-Residence program in the Visual Arts Department at Northwestern Oklahoma State University was established in January 2014, to invite emerging and established artists to spend time at Northwestern. This program provides the gift of time to artists, allowing them the opportunity to create their works in a quiet environment while also exposing the community to new and interesting ideas. Artists are provided with housing and a large studio space in which to work, and also have the opportunity to participate in the First Friday Art Walk exhibition in downtown Alva. The artists, in exchange, are requested to provide a workshop and artist talk for the community during their stay, as well as work with students in the visual arts program on a weekly basis.

“I feel that the residency has had a large impact on not only the students, but the community as well. The art world is very far away from Alva, Okla.; and with artists coming from places like California, New York or Santiago, Chile; it brings the art world here.

“We have Artist Talks, where the artists tell about their own background, what type of work they were making as undergraduates and the progression of their career. Exhibitions of both students and the Artist-in-Residence have an open-door policy. Anyone can come and see their work. These people are here to provide resources to the community.”

The current Artist-in-Residence is Ashley Freinberg. She received her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Boston University in 2013, a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Arts from Brandeis University in 2011 and her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Visual Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2008.

Freinberg began her residency at Northwestern on September 1, and will remain on campus through October. A culminating exhibition of the work Freinberg creates at Northwestern will be displayed toward the end of her stay.

“I would like to welcome everyone to get involved with the program and see what it is all about. We are making great strides to increase the opportunities for our students and our community,” Larson said.



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Alva, OK 73717

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