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Alumnus artwork featured in gallery

Friday, April 11, 2008   (0 Comments)
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By Kathleen King

Alumnus Keegan O'Keefe's artwork was recently displayed in the Paseo arts district simply because a gallery owner saw his artwork in a local hair salon.

O'Keefe is a lifestyle designer who graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2007 with a degree in Art and Design.

His artwork was recently displayed in JRB Art at the Elms in the Paseo arts district in Oklahoma City.

Paseo is the only artists' community in the state. The district is home to 17 galleries and more than 60 artists.

"The OC Art department taught me how to see the world artistically, then how to translate it into something I love: art," O'Keefe said.

After viewing some of O'Keefe's artwork in a local hair salon down the street from the gallery, gallery director and owner Joy Reed Belt contacted him and offered to give him a show.

"It is always fun and enjoyable to be recognized for the hard work that you put into anything," O'Keefe said.

The show and exhibition titled "Next" displayed O'Keefe's art on January 1, 2008.

O'Keefe was recently spotlighted in an online newsok.tv feature. Reporter Angi Bruss conducted a question and answer session about his work.

In his interview, he discussed the influences and motivations for his art.

He recognizes his father, Michael O'Keefe, Oklahoma Christian professor of art and design, for being his "gateway into the art world."

O'Keefe also acknowledges his time spent at Oklahoma Christian had a major effect on his abilities.

"They were able to do this through challenging classes and diverse faculty and staff to help the students see from all angles," O'Keefe said.

Many Oklahoma Christian art students feel the same way.

Sophomore Interior Design major Kirsten Jones believes the art faculty is preparing them for the real world of art careers.

"I think they are well connected because many of the teachers come to class straight from their design job," Jones said. "This gives us a chance to hear realistic situations and problems that we could encounter in our future."

In his newsok.tv interview, O'Keefe describes his art as being high energy and large. He enjoys the standing and the motion of producing his paintings.

"It is highly influenced by graffiti art and underground [art]. I love Asian style work as well, so you will see a lot of line work and calligraphy," O'Keefe said.

One of the most unique things about O'Keefe's paintings is the text.

"I will have dialogues between myself and the painting, and I write them down on the page," O'Keefe said. "It is kind of my own psychiatric help."

He claims to have large conversations with the pieces, and those conversations can be seen in the artwork.

However, the text is not always readable or even present.

O'Keefe describes his art as each being a new experience of himself.

"My inspiration is very experience-based," O'Keefe said. "I like the experience of being alive."

O'Keefe is fascinated by symbols and words and how they have been translated throughout the years to communicate to us today. He collects magazines, sheets of writing and old newspapers.

"I am a pack rat when it comes to text," O'Keefe said. "Things become real when they are written down."

O'Keefe is grateful for the opportunity to have his art displayed to the public and hopes it will help launch his career.

"This was the next stepping stone for me to bigger and better things," O'Keefe said. "I hope the exhibition will spread my name and my ideas in the painting world so as to increase the number of shows and opportunities for me to do more diverse and exciting projects."

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