Curating Collaboration: The Cross Timbers

The Cross Timbers: a Winter Landscape is a collaborative exhibition curated by the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art and the Department of Landscape Architecture. OSUMA Graduate Research Assistants Krystle Brewer and Mary Kathryn Moeller participated in classroom critique and curated the show of photography from Professor Cheryl Mihalko’s Planting Design Class. The students were asked to explore the seemingly desolate Cross Timbers landscape of Oklahoma in winter and to capture the strength and beauty that exists despite its apparently forlorn disposition.

"The Cross Timbers: A Winter Landscape," installation view in Gallery North.

“The Cross Timbers: A Winter Landscape,” installation view in Gallery North.

Each group of images reflects the students’ thoughtful and deliberate approach to their project.  Several of the students concentrated their efforts on small details of the Cross Timbers such as tiny leaves and brittle branches, while others explored the vast seas of prairie and sky.  This mix of minutiae and expansiveness provides a rich texture of sights that will give viewers a new appreciation for this distinctive landscape.

James Hazzard, "Whispering Timbers," 2013. Digital photography, courtesy of the artist.

James Hazzard, “Whispering Timbers,” 2013. Digital photography, courtesy of the artist.

Whispering Timbers, by James Hazzard, takes a muted palette and focuses on the verticality of the trees and grasslands. His photograph is taken from an angle that makes the waning grasses seem as massive as the trees on the horizon line in the distance, mimicking their erectness. To further this vertical aesthetic, the image is separated into four tall panels. To pull all of these elongated elements together, the horizontal skyline is weighed down with corpulent clouds allowing a strip of sunlight to emerge from beneath.

Anna Oosting, "Evening Light," 2013. Digital photography, courtesy of the artist.

Anna Oosting, “Evening Light,” 2013. Digital photography, courtesy of the artist.

In contrast, Anna Oosting’s Evening Light captures the rare warmth of winter’s splendor.  Her detailed approach to the barren landscape of the Cross Timbers is filled with the glow of the setting sun, which sets her images alight with brilliant colors.  Her images are romantically synesthetic—it is possible to imagine walking amongst the wheat and branches as the day draws to an end.  Oosting’s images provide a visually cohesive reminder of the beauty to be found in an otherwise desolate season.

Comment book, "The Cross Timbers: A Winter Landscape."

Comment book, “The Cross Timbers: A Winter Landscape.”

This exhibition brings life to a previously barren and idle gallery in the entry of the Agricultural North building. For years the same posters had hung on Gallery North’s walls. Tiring of seeing the same images every day, Professor Mihalko had the idea of reaching out to the OSUMA for the purpose of collaboration. Her class was able to learn first-hand the work that goes into curating and hanging an exhibition while the GRAs were able to gain additional experience in putting together a cohesive show.

The Cross Timbers: A Winter Landscape opened February 15th and will remain on display through April 15th in Gallery North, located in the Agricultural North Building on Monroe.

This week’s post is by the OSUMA Graduate Research Assistants, Krystle Brewer and Mary Kathryn Moeller.

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About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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