Artists are taking their cues from meteorologists in the upcoming National Weather Center Biennale.
Photographer Cecil Houser is no exception.
His piece, titled “Soothing,” is a shot of mammatus clouds Houser captured in 2011 while watching storms roll through Norman.
“There’s always a calm before the storm but there’s always a peaceful feeling after the storm, and that was the case here,” Houser said on his color photograph. “You’re watching these tremendous supercells coming through an area, but then there’s also this captivating beauty.”
Houser’s piece is one of 100 works in the exhibit showcasing artists’ interpretation on the impact of weather on the human experience. The National Weather Center, University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the Norman Arts Council have teamed up to present the inaugural exhibit opening Earth Day, April 22.
Initial jurors selected the 100 works for display at the National Weather Center Atrium from more than 700 pieces submitted by nearly 400 artists from all 50 states and multiple countries. The call for entries began on Earth Day, April 22, 2012.
Exhibition curator and OU art instructor Alan Atkinson, National Weather Center Director Berrien Moore and Norman Arts Council Executive Director Erinn Gavaghan served as the initial jurors.
Gavaghan said the jurors deliberated to create a show that includes both a balance of mediums from the show’s three categories — painting, works on paper and photography — as well as a variety of represented weather from around the world. The result is an exhibit Gavaghan describes as surprising and unique.
“I think the beauty of this show is that if you like an abstract representation and you kind of have to work through something, there’ll be stuff for you,” she said. “If you like weather photography, there’ll be stuff for you. There’s such a broad range of things for people to enjoy with this show.”
With the show located in the National Weather Center, home to OU, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state organizations, Houser said the exhibit has a distinct overlap between science and art.
“Since this show is coordinated through the National Weather Center, you’ll see that there’ll be a big scientific following because these are people that love what they do, they’re in it everyday and they love seeing how weather effects our environment and us,” he said. “I think the general public will enjoy it, for the most part, especially after walking through and reading each artist’s statement and are able to read the purpose behind the work.”
No matter the viewer’s background, Gavaghan said weather is relatable for each individual. Atkinson agreed.
“It is easy to see how the weather influences peoples’ daily lives, but art often exerts a more subtle influence,” Atkinson said. “It makes sense to combine them in a venue that will underscore the ways that both art and weather shape our humanity.”
Houser said he hopes his show, and his piece in particular, helps viewers to pause and reconsider how they view nature, weather and the environment.
“I hope that people will see that nature has so much beauty to offer us even amidst violence,” he said, referring to violent weather. “There’s even beauty in violence, for whatever reason, maybe it’s to help us deal with the aftermath of violence or maybe it’s to help us realize that there’s hope in everything.”
The National Weather Center Biennale officially opens on Earth Day, April 22, featuring 100 weather-themed art works. The exhibition, located at the National Weather Center Atrium, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., runs through June 2. The exhibition is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 12-5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission to the exhibit is free, but visitors need to present a photo ID for entry.
Additional information about the exhibition is available at nwcbiennale.org and the biennale’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
A total of 96 artists and 100 works were selected for the inaugural National Weather Center Biennale. Artists that listed Norman as their residence include: Carol Beesley, David Abdo Bayazeed, Roger Edwards, Sara Leslie Engel-Barnett, Don Holladay, Cecil Houser II, Debby Cotter Kaspari, Toni Klem, Jane Lawson, Sue Schofield and Brad Stevens
Oil on canvas, “Storm from the South,” by Tony Abeyta. On loan from a private collector.
Color photograph, “Soothing,” by Cecil Houser.