I love art in unexpected places. Tucked in a breezeway between the old and new Tulsa Convention Center buildings, I spotted this tiled mural and was immediately intrigued.
The next morning I started researching the mural. I found this Tulsa World article and learned the work was designed by world-renown artist Sarah Morris.
Based on the article, I learned that Morris designed the piece, but the tile installation was completed by a local company, Tile by Randy. Brothers Randy and Mike Smith had never completed an art installation before, typically focusing on tiling projects in remodels and new homes.
The design is quite complicated. Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, the color combinations do not repeat, but adding to the complexity, for the first time in her career, Morris added a three-dimensional element to the wall by creating not a flat mosaic, but a work with peaks and valleys.
After reading the article, I noticed two things. First, world renown is a pretty vague term – so where else has she shown?
And second, one council member described it as “the ugliest thing he had ever seen.” Now, art is a subjective, but those are pretty strong words, so I decided to investigate.
Here is a quick quote from Morris’ bio:
Morris works in the tradition of geometrical painting of modernism as well as of the 1960s with marked references to the oeuvre of Piet Mondrian, the American color field painters, Op Art and Victor Vasarely. She continues this tradition creatively into the future and instils new life into a reduced formal language through her dynamic, intensively colourful compositions. But with the shiny colours of her striking paintings and murals the artist also reflects critically on the illusionary world of Hollywood film and the surface aesthetics of glossy magazines, fashion and advertising.
Again, I understand art is subjective, but I would suggest that the councilman would be hard-pressed to dislike all of Sarah’s work. I am drawn to her use of color and the precision of her paintings.
Here are a few more installations by Morris that I really love!
Considering her work has been shown around the globe with site specific installations in Norway, London, Zurich, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and New York, I would have to say that having her work in Tulsa places the city on a very exclusive list.
And to have her first three-dimensional work installed in Tulsa positions the city as a place where innovation is accepted and applauded. And that is exactly the message that Tulsa should be trying to spread – regardless of what that council member said.