Oklahoma Contemporary

Media Release

Immersive Off the Wall installations to extend into the air and explore volume of Oklahoma Gallery

February 03, 2022
Colorful, three-dimensional, intricately-cut patterns extend across the floor and up the walls of a gallery space

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

Exhibition will feature site-responsive works from Oklahoma-based artists Sarah Ahmad, romy owens and Marium Rana

Off the Wall, opening Feb. 17, introduces visitors to site-responsive installations untethered from the walls in Oklahoma Contemporary’s Mary LeFlore Clements Oklahoma Gallery.

The exhibition features artworks by three Oklahoma artists — Sarah Ahmad, romy owens and Marium Rana — who mix traditional techniques with modern machinery to create unexpected, large-scale forms. Ahmad, owens and Rana work in fiber, textiles and mixed media, using methods that range from sewing and quilting to the intricate application of paint and the exploration of new technologies.

Their Off the Wall works break free from the confines of a frame, extending into the air and exploring the physical, vertical volume of the third-floor gallery.

Hand-painted collage of various items including Rainbow Fish, masquerade masks, airplanes and butterflies
Marium Rana, Awaiting Arrival (detail), 2021

“The artists’ choice to create through installation work provides our audiences a different way of engaging a gallery space,” said Associate Curator Pablo Barrera. “Due to the ephemeral nature of site-specific work, installation artwork challenges art institutions to reconsider their relationship to collecting, display and the myth of the gallery as a neutral space.”

Activating body as well as mind, the installations co-mingle South Asian and Western references to bring past and present into the gallery. Off the Wall offers not only moments of contemplation, but also experiences that gesture toward the many elements — history, space, people — involved in perceiving art.

“Ahmad, owens and Rana aesthetic choices transcend cultural and temporal boundaries,” Barrera said. “Their works reach into older traditions of visual art and recontextualize core elements of these aesthetic lineages through contemporary concepts surrounding design, technology and identity.”

The Off the Wall installations all share the properties of suspension, tension and intersection. Each artist interprets universal themes — ranging from family relationships and travel to chaos — but their styles stand as distinct distillations of human experience. Placing the works in conversation encourages visitors to reflect on how humanity can interconnect, and the interactive components highlight how perception can transform universal ideas into constantly evolving experiences.

Visits to the Oklahoma Gallery will evolve over the exhibition’s run, as well.

On select Thursday evenings, visitors can use flashlights to interact with Ahmad’s installation, Jaali: “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” (Rumi). The intricate, colorful artwork — comprised of layers of hand- and laser-cut geometric forms (some reclaimed from prior works) and inspired by the artist’s Pakistani heritage — invites viewers to explore not only its computer- generated forms and the shadows they cast, but also the gallery it occupies.

Additionally on select Thursdays, viewers can use mirrors to transport scenes in Rana’s installation. Awaiting Arrival embeds the story of Rana’s immigration within flowing panels inspired by Mughal-style paintings from her South Asian heritage, visually collapsing the distances between New York, Florida, Oklahoma and Pakistan. Provided with mirrors, visitors may frame themselves, the space and other artwork within view of her suspended compositions.

In the final days of the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to deconstruct elements of owens’ fiber installation, Nothing Can Be Perfect. owens’ webbed composition might be seen as a Western interpretation of a mandala, a geometric configuration from Asian art that represents a spiritual journey. From June 16 through June 20, owens will invite audiences to cut, slice and unravel the work, changing the taut, fragmented lines of color from a state of order to a state of disorder.

Off the Wall opens at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 with a reception and artist talk. The event is free, but space is limited and tickets are required. Other public programs include Women’s Work, a talk and a demo on May 14, and guided gallery tours.

Rotating exhibitions at Oklahoma Contemporary feature innovative works by living artists year round, so there is always something new to experience. The Mary LeFlore Clements Oklahoma Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting art by Oklahoma artists or works reflecting on the state. Admission to Oklahoma Contemporary’s exhibitions and most programs is free.


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

Images: (Top) Sarah Ahmad, Contemporary Ruins II (detail), 2014-2018. MDF screen carvings, wood and enamel paint. 108 x 144 x 48 in. Courtesy of the artist © Sarah Ahmad. Photo courtesy the artist. Ahmad will use elements from Contemporary Ruins II and Hanging Gardens in Jaali: “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” (Rumi).

Marium Rana, Awaiting Arrival, 2021. Acrylic, watercolor, ink, vinyl, decorative paper, embroidery, silver leaf, found children’s book pages and metallic film on printmaking paper. Three scrolls: 240 x 50 in. each. Courtesy the artist. © Marium Rana. Photo courtesy of the artist.

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.


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Wednesday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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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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