Community , Culture

Artist Anita Fields calls for 150 participants in community-based Visual Arts Project

Photo caption: “In the Absence of Gathering” seeks to connect individuals through the arts despite being physically distanced. Courtesy Photos/Tulsa Arts Fellowship

TULSA, Okla. – Anita Fields creates “In the Absence of Gathering,” a community-based visual arts project intended to connect individuals through the power of the arts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fields, Osage, is a ceramic and fabric artist, a multi-year recipient of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship and a 2020 Tulsa Artist Fellowship Arts Integration Awardee. Arts Integration Awards are specifically reserved for Tulsa Artist Fellows who are dedicated to continue deepening their community engagement work in Tulsa. The year-long award includes a $25,000 stipend, as well as free-living and workspace to focus on community-based projects.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fields has modified her original project to accommodate physical-distance. “The pandemic has interrupted the way we gather for meals, celebrations and social interactions,” says Fields. “This project seeks to connect individuals and make an expression about our experiences during this unprecedented time. It connects us in a way that is almost impossible given our current situation.”

To maintain physical distance, participants will pick up ready-made packets that include supplies needed to participate, as well as instructions to create words (stories or poetry) and visual representation to communicate separation, detachment from families, friends, a​nd one another during the pandemic. While creating, participants are encouraged to document their process and post on social media using hashtag #intheabsenceofgathering.

“As individuals, we emerge from many traditions, but collectively we find our tables a refuge, a place to converse, and a place to share the joys and sorrows of life experiences,” continues Fields. “This project examines the void left by our absence at family dinners, feasts, and community gatherings.”

The project has an ambitious participation goal of 150 individuals that are able to pick up a project packet in Tulsa beginning Oct. 9, 2020, and ending Oct. 17, 2020; submit a full body image by Oct. 17, 2020, that will be incorporated into an installation to further the idea of gathering; and return the project no later than Nov. 14, 2020. The pick-up and drop off location is at Tulsa Artist Fellowship’s Cameron Studios at 303 N. Main St., Tulsa, OK 74103 during designated time/date. Mandatory masks and social distance protocols will be in place.

Returned projects will be joined by thread with others to create a fabric/paper installation. The installation will be exhibited at a later date and donated to a local institution. ​Those interested in participating can find full details at ​https://tinyurl.com/InTheAbsenceOfGathering.

“The joyful process of creating is hopeful and healing,” says Fields. “The collective, dynamic presence of the installation will emanate the energy of something larger than ourselves. It will provide comfort at a time when it is needed.”

Due to the use of social media and complex materials, participants should be of mature age. There is no cost to participate. As a token of appreciation, contributors will receive a gift related to nourishment/foodways.

With the belief that arts are critical to the advancement of cultural citizenship, Tulsa Artist Fellowship supports both local and national artists while enriching the Tulsa community. Tulsa Artist Fellowship is an initiative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

Project Dates/Location:

  • Packet Pick-Up: Oct. 9 – Oct. 17, 2020; participants must sign-up for individual slots via Sign-Up Genius: ​https://tinyurl.com/InTheAbsenceOfGathering
  • Participant Image Submission: Oct. 6 – Oct. 17, 2020
  • Completed Panel Drop-Off: Oct. 26, 2020, and Nov. 14, 2020

For more information about Tulsa Artist Fellowship, visit ​www.tulsaartistfellowship.org​.