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OAEA conference brings artists, activists to campus

The Oklahoma Art Educators Association (OAEA), is hosting its annual fall conference at Oklahoma Christian University in the Garvey Center today and tomorrow. The theme of the conference this year is, “Speak Out for Art!”

According to Chair of Art and Design Jeff Price, the event will invite art teachers from schools across Oklahoma to participate in workshops and lectures.

“Basically, we’re going to have a series of workshops with different events they can go into and learn—whether that be hands-on workshops or lectures,” Price said. “I’m giving one on anime and relating to your student through anime. They’re also going to have a silent auction to raise money for their organization, speakers, two main guest speakers and then the breakout sessions as well.”

Price said this year’s theme of “Speak Out for Art” is especially relevant given the state of art programs in several schools across the country.

“I think, in today’s world, art doesn’t always get funded properly,” Price said. “I think it’s an awesome theme for their conference. The sad thing is, in a lot of schools, art is the first thing they cut—that and music.”

This year’s conference will have two keynote speakers, Anita Fields and Kim Cosier. Fields is an Oklahoma State University graduate whose art has been exhibited in numerous locations across the world. Fields has also been published in several magazines, including Southwest Art Magazine and American Craft.

“I believe having Anita here and talking about issues related to Native American Culture, and how that relates into our society, is another key element of this conference,” Price said. “It should be really fantastic, especially if you’re an art teacher in Oklahoma, to be a part of this lecture.”

Cosier is an activist, professor of art education and director of community engagement in the Peck School of Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her activism work includes founding ArtECO, a program which develops teachers as change-makers backed by nonprofit art organizations.

Cosier is also the co-editor of “Transforming City Schools Through Art” and “Rethinking Sexism, Gender and Sexuality,” which was awarded the Stonewall Book Award by the American Library Association’s LGBT Roundtable.

Cosier will also showcase years of hands-on art activism in a workshop called Mini-Art Build. Participants will learn how to run art builds and paint banners with the chance of them being used in the future to support social justice and art education.

“I’m excited for this workshop,” Price said. “It’ll be challenging for some people on campus and for some of these educators that are going to be here. It’s definitely something I think is relevant and very current in terms of what’s going on in the world. I wasn’t surprised this was a topic. This is something we all need to be involved with in terms of our world and politics. As art educators, we have to decide to use our talents and our skills to get across the things that are important to us, as well as things that are important to our students and important to our world.”

Price said this event will also be beneficial to Oklahoma Christian and its students.

“It’s good for OC, because we have a bunch of teachers coming to see what we’re all about and what our program is all about,” Price said. “This, for us, is a rare opportunity to get a lot of art-student influencers located in the same space and in our backyard, basically.”

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