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A Painting Worth a Thousand Words: The Zonly Looman Exhibit

The Zonly Looman exhibition opened at Oklahoma Christian University’s art gallery on Sept. 21, showcasing a full collection of the artist’s work. 

“Everything tied together, and it was all really well done,” Senior Roman Schiavo said. “There was a texture to it that absolutely added to it all.”

Art has long been used as a tool to explore and connect with one’s own interpretation of the world, and Zonly Looman clearly exhibits this in his collection displayed in Garvey Center. 

“All of the pieces are gorgeous,” Skyler Thomas, the director of Oklahoma Christian’s art gallery, said. “I reached out to a lot of artists, and I kind of just stumbled upon him. We’re actually having a bigger opening on October 26, so a lot of the community will be invited to that.”

Looman’s art, which features explorations in color and texture, takes traditional topics and ideas and reframes them in more modern ways. One painting depicting two figures immersed in green paint utilized complex line work, layering multiple lines of paint on top of each other. Large clumps of vibrant acrylic paint especially stood out. 

“I was actually a massive fan of the expressionist art form, as well as the way the colors which were used contrasted with each other,” Schiavo said. “To add on top of it all, it was done with acrylics, or cousins of acrylics.” 

Looman derived most of his artistic inspiration from his Native American heritage, which is a central focus in his work.  

“Most of his pieces are about his Native American heritage,” Thomas said. “He was very inspired by his grandmothers, and I think that’s really cool.”

Several of his pieces revolve around the collision of past and present, an idea exemplified by a painting that portrays a woman beside a bison. This concept is also shown through the use of objects such as painted doors, which could be interpreted as a symbol of a new beginning or a gateway into the past. 

“I did enjoy certain ones, such as the lady with the buffalo. I really liked that one,” Junior Mariah West said. “I also liked looking at what he did with physical doors in his artwork.”

Looman’s collection, in addition to employing objects such as doors, also featured several paintings centering around religion and listening, such as a Christlike figure surrounded by symbols of eyes, the color purple and the words “Messenger of God” and “Just wanna talk for a minute, If u wanna listen then listen.” This casual way of phrasing could be interpreted as God speaking to the artistic audience in a conversational manner, rather than an authoritative one.

Looman’s blending of traditional concepts with new and vibrant ideas made an impact on students studying art.

“It made me feel interested in more of what this artist could do in the future,” West said. “It was awesome.”

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