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Howard Koerth and Eyakem Gulilat Exhibit

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Howard Koerth and Eyakem Gulilat Exhibit
January 13th – February 4th

Individual Artists of Oklahoma is excited to present the work of Eyakem Gulilat and Howard Koerth in January 2012. Eyakem Gulilat’s exhibition entitled Collaborative Self and Howard Koerth’s Orphan Suite will begin with an artists’ reception on Friday, January 13th from 6:00 to 9:00pm. Saxophonist Brian Mitchell Brody will perform at the reception. The exhibitions will remain on display through February 4th.

Eyakem Gulilat is a photographic artist and a 2011 recipient of an Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition Artist Fellowship. Originally from Ethiopia and currently making his home in Norman, OK, Gulilat works as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, as he continues to exhibit his work to Oklahoma and national audiences. Eyakem Gulilat received his BAS in Photojournalism and Art from Abilene Christian University in 2005 and his MFA from the University of Oklahoma in 2010. His work has been exhibited across the United States and Canada.

Eyakem Gulilat will be exhibiting a body of work entitled Collaborative Self. Gulilat explains that his work is about how identity is formed in the in-between spaces of cross cultural encounters. “I gravitate towards communities which are underrepresented and who often do not have a place in mainstream media. I treat my camera as a tool that captures one moment of a larger dialogue which occurs between me and my subjects,” the artist explains that his work thrives through interacting with people. Recently, Gulilat began exploring a more introspective approach by turning the camera’s focus to himself and reconstructing memories from his childhood that are represented simultaneously playful and serious. “By reinterpreting the past I seek to collapse the space between my experience as a child growing up in Ethiopia and my presence in America today,” states Gulilat. In his recent triptychs, Eyakem Gulilat assumes the role of an explorer of the American west.

Eyakem Gulilat explains his process as an exchange of dialogue in which he and his subject and audience question identity and the idea of boundaries. “More important than the single frame depicting a misplaced individual in Ethiopian clothing is the space and dialogue which occurs between the photographer and the subject. I shoot in series of triptychs. After photographing my subject, I hand the camera over to the individual that he/she may photograph me in turn. This process forces me to relinquish control and dwell in the space in front, rather than behind the camera lens. I conclude the process by photographing the space in between myself and my subject.
The ambiguity within the portraits and landscapes is purposeful and is intended to raise questions as to where the photos were taken, who was responsible for taking the photos and what it means to be of Ethiopian descent. This project allows me to write myself into the history of this landscape, but more importantly, this project questions the boundaries that separate us from one another.”

Howard Koerth is a nationally recognized ceramic artist currently residing in Oklahoma City, OK and works as a faculty member of Rose State College in Midwest City. He received his BFA from the University of Kansas (1983) and MFA from Indiana University/Bloomington (1988). For the past 20 years his work has been included in invitational and juried exhibitions throughout the United States. In 1993 Koerth received a Regional Fellowship Award in Crafts through the Mid-America Arts Alliance/National Endowment for the Arts.

His work has been included in a number of publications including Ceramics Monthly (“A Personal Aesthetic”, Dec. 1996), “The Ceramic Design Book: A Gallery of Contemporary Work”, (Lark Books, 1998) and The Studio Potter (“Oklahoma Potters”, June 2002).

In 2003, Koerth served as Artist in Residence at the Tainan National College of the Arts in Taiwan, an experience that tremendously influenced his current visual exploration.

Howard Koerth explains his Orphan Suite body of work as a creative and reactive response to the loss of his parents, “In the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 2011 I became an orphan. It took a couple of days for me to realize that I had become something I had never been before. What does it mean to become an orphan at 55? Orphan Suite represents, in real time, the “year of mourning”. It is the visual exploration, expression and celebration of my coming to terms with the past and present, with loss and regrets, with new identity and lifelong associations. “Orphan Suite” is/was the process of my acknowledging that a generational shift is finalized. What is also acknowledged is that the generation that has passed continues with the generation just beginning. Or, as Sonny and Cher put it, ‘…and the beat goes on.’”

Eyakem Gulilat and Howard Koerth’s exhibition will open in conjunction with “The Chorus” an exhibition of works by Neal Putman. With the theme of this exhibition the artist is attempting to express the relationship of music, in this case jazz and swing , to the visual arts using depictions of women. Neal Putman received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma in 1950 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico in 1959. Putman then joined the staff of Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX and later Central State College in Edmond, OK. Putman left employment in the world of art to work with the Oklahoma State Department of Health until his retirement in 1996. Upon retirement Putman returned to exhibiting his work and now resides in Oklahoma City where he continues to paint. “The Chorus” will be on exhibit in the project space through February 4th.

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