The Norman Transcript

June 22, 2013

38 local students attend Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute

By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A total of 38 students from Norman and Moore are flexing their creative muscles during a two-week stay at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, a prestigious arts academy for Oklahoma high school students at the Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center in Lone Wolf, Okla., June 15-30.

The area youth are among 271 students studying nine areas of literary, visual and performing arts under the training of award-winning artists.

Alex Rivas, 18-year-old Norman High School alumna attending for drawing and painting, said her experience at the institute, including intensive daily study, has prepared her for attending the Rhode Island School of Design in the fall.

“I think it gives young artists something to aspire to and once you get in, which is a long process, it also gives you a sense of what other people are doing and what your generation might be like in the arts world,” she said. “We get to see the generation older than us and their successes and their journeys, so it inspires us and shows us the path of how we might be able to succeed.”

Students were selected through competitive statewide auditions from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. All attending students received full scholarships to the program worth more than $3,000 each.

Accepted area students include:

· Norman High School: Ky Anderson and Allison Draheim for acting; Maddie Breedlove, Jonathan Buckelew, Rebecca Stowe, Robyn Wheelock and Isaac Yates for choral music; Jonathan Craig, Grayson Rushing, Julia Weldon and Mitch Mason for orchestra; Nayoung Kwak for ballet; Julian Palmer for photography; Alex Rivas and Bella Siewert for drawing; and Ethan Hoagland for film.

· Norman North High School: Nicci Ciardi, Hannah Harrell, Kennedy Patrick, Devin Sunday, Katherine Wang, Annie Yin and Nathan Yu for orchestra; Alli Hill for modern dance; Chandler Keeth, Hannah Tullius, Emily Vittitow and Ben Wylie for choral music; Jamie Lim for drawing; Samuel Pemberton, Sam Pender, Jacob Rabon IV and Colton Wallace for film; and Paige Williams for photography.

· Community Christian School: Ruth Kennedy for ballet.

· Homeschooled: Faith Bercier for orchestra.

· Westmoore High School: Michael Holleyman for orchestra and Erin Melton for modern dance

During the students’ two-week stay they are able to attend and participate in a variety of performances, gallery openings and recreational activities. Cynthia Couch Rodriguez, painting and drawing instructor, said this interdisciplinary approach broadens the students’ horizons.

“They have to consider what other people are doing because they’re working across various art forms,” Rodriguez said. “It makes their awareness so much more heightened and they grow in leaps and bounds what they do even from a morning class to an afternoon class.”

Though Rodriguez undoubtedly hopes students incorporate arts into the rest of their lives, she said the institute experience holds great value for all other areas of a student’s life.

“They realize there is a variety of solutions to any problem, that there are ways of approaching life that are valid and not to be excused,” she said. “It empowers them to stand up and have a voice, and that a singular voice that is different than other peoples’ is something to be valued.”

The students’ scholarships and program funding are provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, the Oklahoma Arts Council and various foundations, corporations and individuals.

The Oklahoma Arts Institute is a private, non-profit organization developed in 1977, with a mission to provide exceptional multidisciplinary arts experiences that develop individual talent and inspire a lifelong passion for the arts.

Hannah Cruz