Q&A - September 29, 2017

And the winner is…the community of Okmulgee! Last Tuesday evening, at the Okmulgee Community Center, nearly 170 people showed up to take part in the annual Food for thought event. As in the previous year, this event was aligned with the Okmulgee Mural Project to allow public input for public art. The goal of the evening was to select a professional muralist, by popular vote, who would then be commissioned by OSU Institute of Technology to deliver an original work of art in the form of an outdoor mural on the Grand Old Post Office Student Housing Complex in downtown Okmulgee.

Q: Which artist won at the Food for Thought event?

Before I answer the question directly, let me explain the process used to select the finalists. Working through the OSU Purchasing Department in Stillwater, and in conjunction with all state laws applying to the competitive open bid process, OSU Institute of Technology requested proposals for a two-story mural to be applied to the east face of the Grand Old Post Office complex. We sought artists that could deliver an original mural to reflect the historical nature of the building and relate the significance of the university’s presence within the community of Okmulgee. Because the building served as the original Okmulgee Post Office, a nod to its past use was encouraged. Because this will be a student-occupied facility, the mural was to reflect the colors and traditions of the OSUIT campus in Okmulgee. Cowboy themed elements were also encouraged, to complement our tradition surrounding the Pistol Pete mascot.

In general, we wanted the mural design to evoke a sense of community connection, excitement and interest for both the student population and the local community as a whole. We wanted it to be a celebration of the identity and rich heritage of OSU Institute of Technology. And of course, to serve as an attraction in its own right—an original art piece that will both intrigue and inspire visitors to downtown Okmulgee.

Ultimately, we had four proposals that met all of the submission guidelines. Each were from experienced muralists with impressive credentials. All four finalists were invited to the Food for Thought event and asked to present their concepts to the public gathering. Each of the artists had wonderful presentations, but when the votes were counted, there was one clear winner. For the second year in a row, Okmulgee native, Carmen Taylor was selected.

Carmen has loved art for her whole life. This year, marks her ninth year as an art teacher and her eleventh year as a graphic designer. After starting her own screen-printing business at the age of 19, Carmen has created and produced countless designs and products for individuals, schools and corporations. In downtown Okmulgee, she has already produced two iconic outdoor murals: “Welcome to Okmulgee” on the Sneed building and the “Bison Logo” for the Lokal Okmulgee Coffee Shop. Carmen will now direct her attention and talents to the Grand Old Post Office mural, and we’re absolutely delighted to be working with her.

Thank you and please continue to send your great questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu