Shady Point GEAR UP students tour the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art and Oklahoma State University

Twenty-three GEAR UP seventh and eighth graders from Shady Point School recently toured the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art in Stillwater. Upon arrival, students met with Education and Programming Coordinator Casey Pankey and Education and Programming Interns Gianna Martucci-Fink and Audrey Gleason. Students were divided into two groups to explore the galleries within the Museum.

The first exhibition was curated by art history professor Louise Siddons and named Centering Modernism: J. Jay McVicker and Postwar American Art. This exhibition recovers the artistry of Jesse Jay McVicker, a mid-twentieth century painter, printmaker, and sculptor who spent his career at Oklahoma State University.

The second exhibition, Benjamin Harjo Jr.: We are a Landscape of All We Know, was comprised of a selection of more than 30 rarely seen works on paper, prints, and sculpture, drawn from several private collections. The exhibition explores how Benjamin Harjo Jr. creates his place in the world.

During each viewing, students were led by Martucci-Fink and Gleason in a healthy discussion about what they saw in each piece of art, including the colors and how they can evoke different emotions and experiences, lines and shapes in suggesting different adjectives such as energetic, zealous, brave, elegant, etc.

After viewing the galleries, students were guided back to the lobby where they were given a handout following the exhibitions Artists Benjamin Harjo and J. Jay McVicker and how they used abstraction to create figurative imagery in their works. These figures are additionally placed in a surrounding environment that gives viewers clues as to what they are trying to communicate. Students were guided on an art-making project which explored identity and thinking outside the box. They were encouraged to look in mirrors then not to look in the mirrors, to use their hands and run them across various features of their faces to express what they saw and what they felt. Using these senses and various art supplies they created their own abstract portraits.

Upon leaving the Oklahoma State Museum of Art, students toured the Oklahoma State University (OSU) campus. Students were guided by their teacher and OSU alumnus Hank Austin. The first stop was at the world’s largest Student Union. Students explored the different floor levels to see where they could go to purchase books and OSU gear, eat lunch, grab coffee in between classes, and even visit the Bursar Office and Scholarships and Financial Aid Office.

On the lawn of the Edmon Low Library, they learned about OSU’s Horticulture Science and Turf Management Programs which care for OSU’s beautiful campus and Botanical Garden. They learned that OSU-developed turf grasses can be found in ball parks and stadiums across the country including OSU’s Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, OU’s Owen Field, Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium, Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium, Texas Rangers’ Global Life Park and Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium.

Students continued their walking tour by visiting Theta Pond and Willard Hall, home to the College of Education, Health, and Aviation. Next, students visited the fountain in front of Edmon Low Library, a well-known symbol of Oklahoma State University. During the week of Homecoming, the fountain is ceremoniously dyed orange. The students toured Edmon Low Library and saw the Anne Morris Greenwood Reading Room, a room set aside for reading and can be reserved for a group study room area. Greenwood was named Philanthropist of the Year at the 10th Annual Women for OSU Symposium in early 2018.

Students enjoyed visiting Heritage Hall inside of Gallagher-Iba Arena where the history of Oklahoma State University Athletics is proudly displayed—trophies, memorabilia, and other items from treasured past to present. Students got a sneak peek in the room where Coach Mike Gundy hosts post-game press conferences.

Boone Pickens Stadium is Oklahoma State University’s state-of-the-art football stadium and was a favorite stop for the students.

“I’m thankful my GEAR UP students had the opportunity to visit Oklahoma State University’s Museum of Art and Stillwater’s college campus,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Bethany Hicks. “It gave them the chance to see art, community, and campus from a diverse perspective. I hope they see the opportunities are endless.”

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating Schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. In 2017, Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP Grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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