Oklahoma Contemporary

Space For Us: Star Party

A view of the night sky with sparkling constellations. In the center in white text reads STAR PARTY. Below in smaller case: Fresh courage glimmers from planets.

New Light

July 18, 2023

Finding Futures Through the Lens of Galactic Exploration

Cosmic adventures await at your arts center

An art gallery with cement floors and white walls. The back walls come to a corner, with large, marbled, stone-like, swirling creations with black centers. In the middle on the floor, a limestone sits on the edge of light-colored bricks surrounded by rock

Installation view of ArtNow: The Soul Is a Wanderer

“You will have to navigate by your mother’s voice, renew the song she is singing.
Fresh courage glimmers from planets.
And lights the map printed with the blood of history, a map you will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.”
Joy Harjo, A Map to the Next World, 2000

For centuries, the stars have functioned as guiding beacons, markers in the sky, directors of universes, makers of cosmos, rulers of planets and more. From ancient Greek and Indigenous investigations to the first recorded telescope in the Netherlands, the stars above hold all of human nature under one sky, one planet, one home.

A woman in a taupe-colored turtleneck and large, pink glasses is looking at the camera. Behind her we can see a blue sky and terracotta-colored buildings.

Cheyenne Smith

A catalyst for connection, the stars give glimmers of hope, of futures, of possibilities, a sentiment that runs deeply through ArtNow: The Soul is a Wanderer. When planning programs around this investigative exhibition, Curator of Public Programs Marie Casimir and ArtNow curator Lindsay Aveilhé took notes from the twinkling lights surrounding us each night. Cue upcoming Space For Us: Star Party.

“Star Party is a program that was recommended by curator Lindsay Aveilhé — to work with Cheyenne Smith, who is a local NASA ambassador and has been organizing star parties in Tulsa for a while now. We love Smith’s idea behind Space For Us and wanted to support it here at Oklahoma Contemporary, as we always want to promote inclusivity … but also curiosity.”

Thursday’s free program invites visitors to the North Lawn from 8-10 p.m. to experience the cosmos and learn about the fascinating universe we live in. The event is in collaboration with Space For Us founder Cheyenne Smith, whose mission is to provide accessible space exploration to all.

“Space For Us was born out of my personal experience growing up wanting to be an astronomer, but subconsciously telling myself the field wasn’t meant for me and that I had to be an Albert Einstein to pursue it,” Smith says. “Not once did I see anyone who looked like me at the college I was at, pursuing astronomy. Not even at the star parties I frequented. Later on, as I started getting on social media more, I found other people with similar stories as mine.”

A logo. The background is a soft lavender. In the center, a telescope-like graphic made of three intersecting circles in dark blue.

Space For Us logo

“Therefore, Space For Us aims to make space sciences and industry more visible and accessible to underrepresented communities. Space is for everyone, and no one should be left out of this new space age of discovery and exploration. No one should be turned away. We all share the same histories, and we need to share the same future.”

That empowerment of the next generation of artists, creators, innovators and makers parallels the intention behind ArtNow and the Joy Harjo poem from which the exhibition derives its theme.

“Both concepts have a similar purpose, which is trying to amplify the landscapes that surround us,” Smith says. “In many ways, both are a means to try to embody, interpret, understand and express the sacredness of nature. Like many of the works in the exhibition convey ancestry and these different elements of nature, all ties back to our primordial connection to the universe.”

A projected image on a blank wall. In the image, a woman is outside, dressed in a dark shirt with dark sunglasses and dark hair. An overlay of branches and twigs is fading in on top of the woman.

Joy Harjo in Sterlin Harjo's ArtNow video, A Map to the Next World

“We are made of the same stuff as first generational stars… that’s an ancestry bloodline for you. We are literally the landscape, the universe trying to discover itself and asking questions about itself.”

This ancient lineage is one of the many facets to be explored Thursday night.

“We’ve always had access to the stars, especially through Indigenous ways of knowing how the stars guide us,” Casimir says. “Whether that be physical maps of following the stars or in terms of astrology or storytelling as part of creation stories. The stars are also connected to futuristic ways of thinking, like Joy’s poem, and what our potential futures could look like beyond us and beyond our planet. It’s a nice way of tying in works in the gallery to something that uses our entire campus and invites people to come, to gather, to be together and to stare at the cosmos.”

A galactic view of the night sky. Stars sparkle in a black abyss, with two swirling cosmos bright in the middle.
Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and galaxy NGC 5195

All are welcome this Thursday, July 20, to learn from experienced astronomers, take part in a sky scavenger hunt, engage in meaningful conversations and enjoy refreshments and music. Smith plans to expand the program even more — beyond borders, beyond walls — allowing visitors to permanently capture a piece of the sky.

“I’ll be doing a live printing of the 'image of the night' so visitors can take home a piece of the cosmos with them,” Smith says. “I’m excited for people to just look through the telescopes and hopefully see them get as excited about it.”

The evening will also include space sonification excerpted from When the Stars Came Down to Earth, a video by Crystal Z Campbell and Nathan Young. Walk-ins encouraged as space permits. Star Party is in partnership with Lunar Sooners and OKC Astronomy Club.


Branding for Space For Us: Star Party.

Installation view of ArtNow: The Soul Is a Wanderer, including works by Isaac Diaz and Molly Kaderka. Photo: Ann Sherman.

Space For Us founder Cheyenne Smith. Photo courtesy Smith.

Space For Us logo. Image courtesy the nonprofit.

Poet Joy Harjo in Sterlin Harjo's A Map to the Next World on view in ArtNow (2023). Photo: Ann Sherman.

Celestial objects Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and galaxy NGC 5195 captured by Space For Us.

Tags tags
public progams ArtNow ArtNow 2023 stargazing Star Party exhibition video community

Return to New Light.


Monday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Closed Tuesday

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

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

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

see additional holidays


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

Newsletter Signup

Join our mailing list to learn about our events, exhibitions, education and more.