Monday, October 28, 2013

Quartz Mountain Magnetism

For some people, Quartz Mountain magnetism is so intense, it pulls them back again and again – even if it means driving over 3,500 miles in one month.

Evan Beasley loves Quartz Mountain so much, he sometimes makes up to three round trips each fall from his home in Denver to serve as the documentary photographer for the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute.

Evan was an Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute photography student in 2007, where he studied with New York documentary photography Steve Simon. Evan also served as a counselor and documentary photographer for the 2012 and 2013 Summer Arts Institutes.

When he's not at Quartz Mountain, Evan works at Mike's Camera in Boulder, Colorado, where he is a photo lab technician. He's also a freelance photographer and spends a lot of his free time skateboarding. 

What keeps Evan coming back to Quartz Mountain, even when it means putting thousands of miles on his Honda Civic? 

"I still use photography techniques that I learned as an OSAI student almost every day," Evan says. "OSAI changed my views on how you can succeed in the world as an artist. I like to continue to support OAI and help get the word out to high school students that this program is available."

You can learn more about Evan and check out his photography work here. Have you returned to Quartz Mountain after attending the Fall or Summer Arts Institute? What brought you back? Please share your story in the comments section below!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Award-Winning Documentarian Lauren Greenfield Visits OSAI

by Catherine Roberts, OSAI PR Counselor

OSAI guest artist Lauren Greenfield is a major photographer and filmmaker, whose work primarily deals with the effects popular culture and media have on individuals in American society. She is best known for her recent documentary The Queen of Versailles, about Jackie and David Siegel, owners of timeshare company Westgate Resorts, and their doomed attempt to build the largest single family home in America. The film has won many awards, including the Sundance Film Festival's U.S. Directing Award.

Greenfield has worked extensively through photography and documentary film on the culture and cult of beauty and femininity, including a documentary about an eating disorder treatment clinic. She showed many of these photos and clips of films during a Friday night presentation in the Performing Arts Center. 

On Saturday morning, Greenfield screened her 30-minute film Beauty CULTure, which was featured in an eponymous exhibition at The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. She spent the rest of the morning with the OSAI film and photography students, answering questions and discussing her work. 

Greenfield told students that one of the goals of her filmmaking is to reveal "how we are all complicit in promoting the culture we all live with.” She explained that the extreme characters she profiles also serve to reveal some of the ways each of us engage in less dramatic versions of the same behaviors.  

She recommended that students take advantage of the opportunities afforded by participating in OSAI, calling it “something that can kind of lift you over the next 10 years.” She challenged them not to rely on a particular company or position, but instead to “build your own community of support.”

Greenfield's work has earned her an astounding amount of honors and grants, including the designation by American Photo magazine as one of "The 25 Most Important Photographers Now." It is a huge honor to have her at OSAI this year. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Students Learn Ballroom Dance at OSAI

by Victoria Harrell, OSAI PR Counselor

Each year, the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute offers an extracurricular class that every student attends during the first week. These classes give the students more opportunities to meet people from other disciplines, while loosening everyone up for their classes and other activities.  Students at Quartz Mountain this year are taking ballroom dance, taught by returning instructors Alee Reed and Rainer Trubere.

In one session, the lead dancers stand in a circle, facing their partners, who have formed a circle inside the circle of lead dancers. The students dance through a given set of steps and then switch partners, the outer circle rotating counterclockwise. As the class progresses, the students' moods visibly brighten as they get comfortable with the variety of dances and new partners.

Ballroom dance is a valuable class for every student, whether they are experienced dancers or just starting out.  Not only does this class give the students more confidence in their classes and in interactions with each other, but it will also give them confidence and skills that will be valuable later in life. Students can now boldly go out on to any dance floor and just maybe show the other dancers a thing or two.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Creative Writing, Acting and Ballroom Dancing Instructors Give Evening Presentations

by Catherine Roberts, OSAI PR Counselor

Students had a chance to get in on the action for the Wednesday evening faculty presentation and showcase. Presenting were creative writing instructor Sherwin Bitsui and acting instructor A. Dean Irby. 

Bitsui is the author of two books, Flood Song and Shapeshift. He is from White Cone, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation and is the recipient of an American Book Award. 

Bitsui included his students in his presentation by expanding the performance space to include the bridge to the Performing Arts Center. The students stood at intervals along the bridge, reading their own original poetry as the audience crossed. 

Another writer, Allison Hedge Coke, whom he called a mentor and collaborator, performed with him. Taking turns reading from their respective works, the poets placed their two pieces in dialogue with one another. 

After reading, the pair took questions from the students, including one about how they know when a poem is finished. Both indicated there isn’t really a way to know for sure, that "a poem is never finished, only abandoned." Coke mentioned that she even changed lines from her work as she was reading that evening. 

Dean Irby has numerous acting and directing credits to his name, including a role in a Broadway show as well as several years serving as an acting coach on The Cosby Show. He spoke about his career, and then asked for volunteers from the audience to demonstrate a basic acting exercise.

He gave each volunteer a “script” consisting of two words: “Yes,” and “No.” The challenge was to come up with a reason to switch from saying the first word to the second and back again.

On Thursday evening, the ballroom dance instructors were on display. Alee Reed and Rainer Trubere first screened the documentary film Mad Hot Ballroom, about the American Ballroom Theater’s Dancing Classrooms program, in which both have been involved. The pair then took questions from students and gave a brief demonstration of "The Hustle." This year at Quartz Mountain, students are participating in ballroom dance classes in between sessions of their primary discipline.

Friday, June 21, 2013

OSAI Faculty Presentations Continue

by Catherine Roberts, OSAI PR Counselor

Evening faculty presentations continue at Quartz Mountain. The second and third evening programs were filled with insights from ballet instructor Brian Reeder, film instructors Elisabeth Haviland James and Revere La Noue, drawing/painting instructors Jose and Cynthia Rodriguez, and orchestra conductor Scott Parkman.

Brian Reeder and one of his students. 
Brain Reeder’s distinguished performance background includes dancing for New York City Ballet, William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt and American Ballet Theatre. He has been a choreographer since 2002, and currently serves as a teacher and choreographer for The Manhattan Youth Ballet and as adjunct faculty at Vassar College.

His OSAI students assisted with his presentation, demonstrating the basic barre warm-up exercises that dancers use to prepare for center-floor combinations and choreography. 

Film instructors Elisabeth Haviland James and Revere La Noue are a couple who met during the production of their first collaboration, a documentary about former Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden. James and La Noue both have extensive experience in documentary filmmaking, with work appearing in various venues across six continents. The pair emphasized the importance of artists also being skilled at business. 

Cynthia Rodriguez explains one of her pieces. 

Drawing and painting instructors José and Cynthia Rodriguez, also a married couple, displayed many of their works for students and described their respective paths to becoming professional artists. José was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and traveled across Asia and Europe with his family as a young child. He spent many years as a tenured professor of printmaking at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque before leaving academia to concentrate on studio production. Cynthia grew up in Western Oklahoma, and has taught all ages in Oklahoma in New Mexico. Her works can be found in private collections in many countries.

Scott Parkman discusses his career. 
Orchestra conductor Scott Parkman also briefly described his career, including one of his proudest achievements, founding American Century Music, a non-profit organization dedicated to performing the works of 20th Century American composers. He gave students an overview of some of the notable names, works and ideas behind that period in American music and culture. 

The OSAI Orchestra will perform this weekend with the Chorus June 22 at 7pm, at the Performing Arts Center. The concert is free and open to the public. 

Students Expand Horizons at Quartz Mountain

by Victoria Harrell, OSAI PR Counselor

Here at Quartz Mountain, things often start in the wee hours of the morning.  As soon as the sun begins to peek over the horizon, you can see small groups of students and staff going on hikes up the mountains, walking to Pilates class, or dragging their instruments across campus to get a jump on the day's rehearsal.

Wednesday morning, in front of the long, familiar bridge that leads to the Performing Arts Center, the modern dance and photography classes met for a collaborative project.  Modern dance instructor Daniel Squire and photography faculty Troy Word, Konrad Eek, and Ben Long joined their students to take advantage of the unique opportunity for multidisciplinary experiences that OSAI can offer.    

In what must have seemed a very odd request, modern dance students were asked to bring haz-mat suits with them to Quartz Mountain, which will be used in their final performance, but also came in handy in this early morning project. 

At the end of one of the many trails that spring from the OSAI campus, the modern dance students slipped on the white, hooded suits. As the sun came up, the natural lighting changed constantly, giving the photography students endless inspiration. 

 In the first set of pictures, Squire gave the dancers a sequence of hand motions to perform while walking in a row along the trail, setting up a scene for the photographers.  Meanwhile, Word instructed his students on placement, having them imagine they are paparazzi who need to get shots of celebrities walking down the red carpet. 

For the next set of pictures, the photography students broke out into groups with the dancers. Some groups ventured up the mountain, while others chose to stay along the trail, each letting the dancers use one another to create different forms and positions as they posed.    

One of the most exciting things to witness at Quartz Mountain is students stepping out of their comfort zones. They try new things and take advantage of opportunities to be creative. While the two disciplines collaborate, you can see students’ minds working. Each student gives input, coming up with completely different concepts than what any of them had previously imagined. The creativity that OSAI cultivates is the “magic of the mountains” at its finest.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Afternoon with OSAI Photography Students

by Catherine Roberts, OSAI PR Counselor

Fashion and celebrity photographer and filmmaker Troy Word has photographed some of the world's most important leaders and celebrities, including (to name a few) Barack Obama, George W. Bush, King Abdullah of Jordan, Matt Damon, Dolly Parton, John Stewart and Heidi Klum.

On day two of his OSAI photography class, Troy had his students work with somewhat less auspicious subjects: hard-boiled eggs.

Each student was given an egg and was told to use light to express an emotion. No drawing faces on the eggs—the one tool the students were given was light. Some used the professional lighting equipment inside the photo pavilion, while some chose to use the natural light of the outdoors.

The theory? Troy says that eggs aren’t so different from people—lighting has a similar effect on both when it comes to conveying emotion and mood. 

As camp progresses, students will move into taking portraits, using many of the same techniques they used on the eggs.  If you’d like to see the students’ work on display, visit the Art Gallery during ONSTAGE Weekend. The Gallery Opening Ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29 in the Amphitheater at the Quartz Mountain Arts & Conference Center. If you can’t make it out to Quartz Mountain, catch the Tour de Quartz exhibition when it comes to a museum or gallery near you. The Tour de Quartz is comprised of one piece of artwork from each of the 2013 OSAI drawing/painting and photography students, and the exhibition schedule will be posted on our website soon.