I create art about our diminishing experience with the landscape. As the availability of an unadulterated landscape disappears with urban sprawl, billboard splattered interstates, and fracking*, our active engagement with the outdoors dwindles as we choose a climate-controlled path in front of illuminated screens.Using various types of photographic equipment I make images of pockets of unadulterated landscapes before they mutate into drilling sites or parking lots, beautiful portraits of endangered places. I am also manufacturing landscapes in various media to generate conversation about synthetic vs. authentic experiences and the value of one vs. the potential unavoidable necessity of the other. Leaning in to the language of women, I use sewing and knitting to construct landscapes. I find the techniques of fiber arts comforting and nostalgic, just as photographs are often a source of comfort and nostalgia. Blankets and photographs are frequently the objects that become the heirlooms in a family.I am provoked by three factors. First is my own guilt and shame for being engrossed with media content provided through the computer, television, movie screen, and iPhone.** Second is my anguish in seeing the children of my friends genuinely obsessed with portable devices. The third is the commonly boring and/or bleak view out of a window, which consistently involves concrete, steel, or more glass. Influenced by cautionary tales like the books All Summer in a Day and The Lorax, the movies Wall-E and Interstellar, and the television program Battlestar Galactica, my ideas gravitate towards a dystopian future in which there is limited or no engagement with the landscape because we have destroyed it. I am also motivated by news stories about the maturation of Google Glass, the resurgence of rickets in children caused by decreased exposure to sunlight, and that “smog couture” is an actual term used to describe fashion trends in China. While my approach is subtle, I am making art in response to political and environmental issues of our time. Making and presenting art is my most effective means of communication, allowing me to foster specific ideas for broader audiences and discuss difficult topics housed in a nurturing methodology.
*Brought to you by Oklahoma. You’re welcome.
** I grew up in the 1970s in a house with this policy: If someone is home, the television is on.
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Romy Owens is an artist and curator living in Oklahoma City. She makes artwork in reaction to place, community, and transformation. During her ten years as a working artist, she has established herself as a leader in the Oklahoma art community, curating influential exhibitions such as the inaugural ArtNow at Oklahoma Contemporary (2012) and OKC125 (2014). She was selected as the first Emerging Curator of Momentum OKC (2009), the first Emerging Artist of the Year by the Paseo Art Association (2010), and the first Artist in Residence (2012) at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City. Owens was selected for the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's inaugural Concept/OK exhibition in 2012 and for the 2014 triennial exhibition Art 365, for which she received the Mid-America Arts Alliance's Artistic Innovations Grant. Owens has had nine solo exhibition and has participated in dozens of group exhibitions. She received an MA in Photography from Oklahoma City University in 2005. Her work is part of private, public, corporate, and museum collections.