Oklahoma Contemporary

ArtNow 2023

ArtNow: The Soul Is a Wanderer

June 22, 2023-Jan. 15, 2024
Eleanor Kirkpatrick Main Gallery

Watch the ArtNow 2023 Focus Awards Artist Talk here

Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.
You must make your own map.
— Joy Harjo, A Map to the Next World, 2000

A red dirt obelisk in front of a screen
Ashanti Chaplin, Earth Elegy

The Soul Is a Wanderer was the 2023 edition of the Oklahoma Contemporary ArtNow biennial exhibition, highlighting new and recent art from a selection of artists active in the state.

Thirteen cross-generational artists came together in this exhibition organized by Tulsa-based guest curator Lindsay Aveilhé. The Soul Is a Wanderer took its title from a line in the poem A Map to the Next World by 2019-2022 United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (b. 1951, Tulsa; Muscogee Nation). The artists drew inspiration from the poem’s call to remember the past as we journey beyond the present by unearthing complex histories and imagining alternate routes toward emancipatory futures of our making.

Through distinct perspectives and approaches, the painting, sculpture, video, installation, performance, photography and ceramics in the exhibition captured moments of passage, reckoning and renewal. Together, the works in The Soul Is a Wanderer evoked the landscape of Oklahoma — its topography and our shared reality — as a site for questioning, dreaming and action.

A clay plate with two handles holds two candles, one right side up and one upside down, over a black bowl
Isaac Diaz, Comal

Artists in the exhibition

ArtNow Performances

Sept. 28 |Tȟaŋmáhel | Kite
Nov. 9 | Dust to Dirge: An Earth Elegy | Ashanti Chaplin

A person wearing a brown hat and denim jacket stand with hands clasped in front of them

ArtNow 2023 Focus Awardee

The ArtNow 2023 Focus Awardee was director Sterlin Harjo, whose Oklahoma-centered filmography includes Four Sheets to the Wind (2007), Cepanvkuce Tutcenen (Three Little Boys) (2009), Barking Water (2009), This May Be the Last Time (2014) and Mekko (2015). Love and Fury (2020), a documentary on Native American creatives, reflects the Native instinct to “convert fury into love.” His groundbreaking Indigenous comedy series Reservation Dogs (premiered in 2021) was lauded by The Atlantic as “a genre-mixing, cliché-exploding series [that] captures coming of age as a Native kid like no TV show before it.” Harjo’s film featuring the poet Joy Harjo was made specifically for The Soul Is a Wanderer.

Black and white image of a person with pulled back wavy hair

Guest curator

Tulsa-based guest curator Lindsay Aveilhé is currently director of the Gardiner Gallery of Art at Oklahoma State University. Recent curatorial projects include Sol LeWitt at the Reykjavík Art Museum (2020) and Sol LeWitt: Lines, Forms, Volumes at Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Naples (2019). Aveilhé is editor of the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings Catalogue Raisonné (Artifex Press, 2018) and co-creator of the Sol LeWitt mobile app made in collaboration with the LeWitt Estate and Microsoft (2020). She was contributing author to Locating LeWitt: Between Mind and Body (Yale University Press, 2021).

Read 2023 press here and 2024 press here

This exhibition is supported by George Records, Richard and Glenna Tanenbaum, The Kanady Family, E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, Annie Bohanon, Chickasaw Nation, Velocigo, Love’s Travel Stops, Flogistix, Scott Fischer, BancFirst/BancFirst Trust, Ad Astra, Joan S. Maguire, Margaret Freede, Kirkpatrick Oil Company, Delaware Resource Group, Kam’s Kookery, Randy and Mendi Coleman, The Skirvin Hotel, WanderFolk Spirits, Premium Brands Wine and Spirits, Merrick Foundation, Shirley and Bankhead Families, Volunteer Capital LLC, Pam and Bill Shdeed, Artform, G. David Neff and Suzanne Peck, Eli and Leslie Hellman, HumanKind Hospitality, NBC Oklahoma, Ryan Coe, Anonymous, Jane Harlow, O’Connor Family Foundation, Matt and Paula Thomas, Ann Lacy Foundation, Miles and Molly Tolbert, Jordan von Netzer, Lissa and Jon Blaschke, HSE Architects, David and Aimee Harlow, B.C. Clark Jewelers, United Mechanical, Billie Thrash, Lou C. Kerr/The Kerr Foundation, Cliff and Leslie Hudson, Robin and Brad Krieger, Tinker Federal Credit Union, Virginia A. Meade, Amy Kirby, The Medallion Group, Jennifer and Dale Thurman, Lingo Construction, Charles L. Oppenheim, Mark and Julie Beffort, Inasmuch Foundation, Blair and Maggie Humphreys, Rand and Jeanette Elliott, Valerie Naifeh and George Catechis, Maggie and Perry Phipps, Drew Williamson, Kay Kuykendall, Amy and Alex Skinner, Amanda and Nathaniel Harding, Mollie and Sam McCurdy, Sody and Robert Clements, Anne Workman, LALO Tequila, Vanessa House Beer Company and Oklahoma City Museum of Art.


Installation view of ArtNow: The Soul Is a Wanderer, including Robert Peterson's Imperfectly perfect, together (2023), Isaac Diaz's Paracas (2023), Guias Vase (2023) and Projection///Placement (2023), and Yatika Starr Fields' Go West Young Man (2023) and Whose Kicks? (2023). © Robert Peterson. © Isaac Diaz. © Yatika Starr Fields. Photo: Ann Sherman.

Installation view of ArtNow: The Soul Is a Wanderer, including Joseph Rushmore's No Known Place (2019-2023), Elspeth Schulze's The Sparing Ones (2023) and Moira RedCorn's Ma^zha^tseka Ma^thi^ (Moving to a New Country) (2022). © Joseph Rushmore. © Elspeth Schulze. © Moira RedCorn. Photo: Ann Sherman.

Ashanti Chaplin, Earth Elegy, 2023. Obelisk sculpture: Fired clay soil on wood armature. 156 x 24 x 12 in. Video, 13:00 min. (looped). Score composed by Gabriel Royal with Ashanti Chaplin. © Ashanti Chaplin. Photo: Ann Sherman.

Isaac Diaz, Comal, 2023. Ceramic and beeswax candles. 14 x 11 x 18 in. © Isaac Diaz. Photo: Ann Sherman.

Sterlin Harjo. Photo: Shane Brown.

Lindsay Aveilhé. Photo: Lola Serrano.


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