Displayed in the Art Gallery at OCCC are 100 very small paintings that make up the landscape of this country, as seen through the eyes of one painter. Artist Liz Roth described her artwork at a reception on campus Oct. 26.
The collection, entitled “America 101,” will be on exhibit in room 124 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 12.
The exhibit is comprised of 4-by-6-inch paintings that make up the American landscape, two from each state. The collection ranges from the most western states of Hawaii and Alaska to the most eastern of Maine.
The paired paintings show the scenery in each state.
For instance, the paintings of Oklahoma show the Great Plains. The paintings of California show both the beaches in the western part of the state, and the dessert terrain in the eastern part of the state.
Although there are similarities, one also notices the differences in scenery among the states, and around the country.
Her art has a “performative quality,” she said, explaining that her ways of doing things have meaning.
Roth said she made sure to travel to each state in the U.S. to paint a picture of its landscape.
While she could have looked up pictures on the Internet, Roth said, she believed it was “significant to go visit every state.”
Roth is a New York native who now is professor of painting, drawing, and professional practices at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where she has been teaching for six years.
When preparing for her project, Roth said, she crisscrossed America.
She would take pictures of the country’s beautiful landscape with a borrowed digital camera and then continue to paint the tiny boxes that are her finished product. The boxes were mass produced and designed by a carpenter in order to show conformity among her paintings.
The paintings differ not only in subject, but also in how Roth painted. She began her project in 2006 and ended in 2008.
Roth traveled both by car and airplane, and said her trips would last from five days to months. The paintings took on more detail later on in Roth’s travels, though Roth said she was not quite sure why.
At the reception for “America 101,” Chris Dillon, film major, said he was impressed with Roth’s resourcefulness.
“I liked the personal stories of how she did it. She made it across the states with so little money.”
Roth said her inspiration for her exhibit came from the question of why she was not a better environmentalist.
She said she decided one factor was that nature is so big and hard to conceive, yet the country’s most disposable commodities are so small and meaningless.
Roth had the idea of scale, which was taking such a big concept as nature and making it small. At the same time, she said, she used a large billboard of a water bottle as a symbol to explain how throw-away products need to be recognized as a big problem that endangers that natural environment in which people live.
The “America 101” exhibit is sponsored by OCCC’s Cultural Arts program. For more information, contact Cultural Programs Director Lemuel Bardeguez at 405-682-1611, ext. 7295.