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PCAC Opens ROOTED IN (Photos)


September 9 – October 15, 2016
Reception on October 8th at Ponca City Art Center
Artists’ Locale Inspires Work for Rooted In Exhibition.

Artists Ken Crowder, Jena G. Kodesh and Audrey Schmitz have combined forces to create Rooted In, a traveling exhibition of photography, painting and ceramics that encompasses reflection and present-day experiences of rural living. Viewers can anticipate seeing contemporary and relatable artworks that tell stories in the vision of each artist.

Ponca City Art Center is the third venue for Rooted In. Graceful Arts Center in Alva and Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid were prior hosts of the traveling exhibition.

According to Kodesh, “When we initially thought about doing a show together, it almost immediately centered around our location and our feelings about rural life. All three of us are drawn to nature and all things organic.” 

Crowder adds “The life and spirit of the earth and nature is central to the inspiration for our work in Rooted In.”

Schmitz reflects “nature’s life cycles provide unlimited possibilities for creative expression.”

Born in Ponca City, Crowder had early leanings toward his chosen profession of photography. “My father introduced me to the wonder and magic of photography and the darkroom when I was about five or six years old.  It has been a lifelong passion for me.”  In discussing the work for this show Crowder said, “I am drawn to subject matters that suggest a sense of majesty and timelessness, qualities that I see in nature – from an extreme close up of a delicate wildflower to an expansive Oklahoma landscape.”

Kodesh credits the Kiamichi Mountains in Southeastern Oklahoma as an inspiration during her formative years. She now lives on the family farm south of Tonkawa which provides a multitude of subject matter.  Her watercolor and oil paintings for Rooted In use “organic form to express life’s spirituality, while contrasting it with geometric shaped canvas to create a worldly viewpoint. My work expresses the vibrancy I felt living in the country in my early years and also reflects my passion for rural life as an adult.”

Schmitz will exhibit both functional and sculptural works made from clay, “an incredible art medium that comes directly from the earth.” She grew up in the Ozark Hills of Missouri and is influenced by the quilt-making traditions of her mother and grandmother.  “I have an affinity toward pattern and surface texture, and I find these characteristics in the natural materials that the earth offers up, including leaves, grasses, grains and other vegetable sources abundant in my own back yard.”

Bios for each artist:

Jena G. Kodesh holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with double majors in Studio Art and Art History from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Arts in Education degree from the University of Phoenix. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who instructs two-dimensional arts and art appreciation for Northern Oklahoma College while also working as a professional artist. Ms. Kodesh’s artwork validates her love for organic form by providing her with opportunities that include one-woman shows, group art exhibitions and mural work. She is a recipient of the 2011 Governor’s Arts in Education Award and is a graduate of the 2012 State Leadership Arts Program.

Audrey Schmitz heads the Art Department at Northern Oklahoma College and is the director of the Eleanor Hays Art Gallery. In addition to instructing three-dimensional arts at the college, she also pursues a professional career, specializing in ceramics, sculpture and fine art photography. In 2015 she was selected to create new work in clay for “Ballad of the Farm: Then, Now, Tomorrow,” a curated competitive museum exhibition of 11 artists from six states. Ms. Schmitz is a graduate of Leadership Arts, a program sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council to equip participants to become leaders and advocates for the arts in their communities. She has received the Oklahoma Foundation Medal of Excellence in Teaching and is a DaVinci Fellow.

Ken Crowder was born and raised in Ponca City where he learned photography and darkroom work from his father.  After college, while serving as a US Navy photographer, Crowder qualified to attend an intensive year long course of study at Syracuse University in the US Military Photojournalism School.  He then served his last three years as a staff photographer at SACLANT, the US NATO headquarters in Norfolk, VA. He has owned and operated Ken Crowder Photography in Tonkawa since 1995 where he specializes in commercial advertising, creative portraiture and fine art.  His show “25 Days, Photographs of Oklahoma” was exhibited at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Ken has been an adjunct instructor of photography at Northern Oklahoma College since 2001.

Grannys Memory by Jena Kodesh

Granny’s Memory-Jena Kodesh

Home  by Jena Kodesh

Home-Jena Kodesh

Kay County OK  by Ken Crowder

Kay County, OK-Ken Crowder

Tilework Redbud Diptych by Audrey Schmitz

Tilework Redbud Diptych-Audrey Schmitz