Trip to France, Chicago Conference Made Possible for Two Oklahoma Artists Through O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Fund

Oklahoma artists Beatriz Mayorca and Eric Piper will have their travels to Chicago and France, respectively, to further their artistic practices funded in part through the Norman Arts Council-administered O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Fund. 

The award began in 2014 as a means to honor the late Norman painter O. Gail Poole, a longtime proponent of seeing the world to inform artists and their artistic pursuits and careers. Since 2014, Oklahoma artists Marwin Begaye, Douglas Shaw Elder, Sarah Engel-Barnett, Skip Hill, Debby Kaspari, Mayumi Kiefer, Solomon Mahlatini, Liz Roth, Craig Swan and Holly Wilson have been able to travel to conferences, retreats and journeys of inspiration across the world because of awards from the fund, spreading Oklahoma’s creativity to others in the process. 

Benches by Beatriz Mayorca

Benches by Beatriz Mayorca

This year’s Oklahoma Artist award was presented to Beatriz Mayorca. Mayorca is a Venezuelan-born artist and interior designer has lived in Oklahoma City since 2005. She graduated with a degree in Social Communication from the Central University of Venezuela, but her passion for the arts and design made her seek a Bachelor's of Fine Arts from the University of Central Oklahoma. 

As an individual studio artist, she has obtained many awards and recognition for outstanding development, such as her recent 2017-Artist Invitational Award granted for Downtown OKC Partnership (DOKC), giving her the opportunity to create functional-public artistic pieces installed in the heart of Downtown OKC. Additionally, she has been awarded the Most Outstanding Hispanic Artist 2014 Award and 2016 AHAS Awards in Wood Category from the Academy of Handmade - LA California. Beatriz is also a member of Oklahoma City's Pre-Qualified Artist Pool 2017-2020 in Mosaic Art, Functional Art, and 3D Art categories.

Mayorca will use the award to attend an assortment of educational lectures offered at the Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair this fall in Chicago, IL. SOFA combines her personal balance between form and function and interest in melding sculpture and functional artistic-pieces through hands-on demonstrations, lectures, networking with likeminded artists from across the globe and a wellspring of inspiration in the form of new perspectives and techniques.

Mirror Image  by Eric Piper

Mirror Image by Eric Piper

This year’s Norman Artist Awards was presented to Eric Piper. Piper is a multidisciplinary artist with a focus on social interaction. Piper’s artwork digs for common symbols and psychological narrative in the human experience in effort to bridge the ever-evolving barriers between social classes and cultures. The physical works are shared as an act of performance. Exhibitions and happenings are experimental research, learning new ways to connect artists and audiences together through artwork.

After graduating with a BFA in Sculpture/Printmaking from The University of Oklahoma in 2013, Piper operated a DIY gallery/venue/studio space for two years bringing hundreds of local, national, and global artists and bands together in Norman between 2014 and 2016. This energy was redirected into co-founding the non-profit art space Resonator Institute in 2016 through 2018.  

Currently, Piper operates under Oscillator, an experimental, fine-art silk screen press and performance collective. They work collaboratively with a variety of entities to host art festivals, happenings, lectures, exhibitions and workshops.

Piper’s award helped offset some of the costs of a trip to France where he engaged in a number of collaborations and journeys for inspiration. He underwent a collaborative project with old studio-mate Gaetan Larant and Good Morning Toulouse (a local university radio station) to broadcast a series of strange storytelling and soundscape radio dramas in Toulouse, France. 

He then journeyed to Friche la Belle de Mai, a 45,000 square meter experimental cultural center housing 70 arts & culture organizations, workshops, skateparks and exhibition spaces.

Finally, he visited printmaking collective Le Dernier Cri, with plans to create an exhibition for display in Norman at a later date. Piper also plans to showcase the work created with Larant in a form of exhibition and digital release locally, as well. 

The O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Fund will open up for applications for artists seeking a travel award again in Spring 2020.