The picturesque scenery of Quartz Mountain in southwest Oklahoma served as the perfect setting for an elite group of young Oklahoma artists, including 11 students from Stillwater, to hone their craft. The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI) provided an extraordinary learning experience to students selected for the two-week academy, which took place at Quartz Mountain from June 9 – 24.
Each year, the Institute provides world-class instruction to Oklahoma’s most talented high school students in the literary, visual, and performing arts. OSAI brings nationally renowned faculty artists from across the United States to teach students in eight different artistic disciplines, an experience few other programs in the nation offer.
Each student accepted to attend OSAI receives a full scholarship. This year, nearly 1000 high school students auditioned for 267 available spots.
The following Stillwater students participated at Quartz Mountain:
Stillwater High School: Brennan Lacy, Peter Pickett, Adriana Cervantes, Valerie Sharp, Helen Dai, Cameron Dickey, Hwanee Hwang, Joel Lanners, Jiwoo Sim, Kaylee Smith
Homeschooled: Audrey Oschner
“OSAI means a lot to me,” said Pickett. “It has helped me open up and meet amazing creative people from all over the state. I am so happy to go back this year because this camp means a lot to me, and it provides experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”
During OSAI, students spend at least six hours per day practicing their art. In the evenings, they attend performances, lectures, and demonstrations that allow them to experience other disciplines. Students study, reside, and build community together, creating lifelong friendships and producing future collaborations.
OSAI faculty artists have included winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Academy, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony awards. This summer, 34 faculty artists teach students in the disciplines of acting, chorus, creative writing, dance, drawing & painting, film & video, orchestra, and photography.
“I’m so very excited to be attending Quartz for the time,” said Cervantes. “I have heard wonderful stories those who have attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute and its performances. It is an incredible opportunity to train in a beautiful place in our great state of Oklahoma. Ballet training has been a blessing for me and I look forward to learning from new instructors as well as making new friends in a variety of artistic disciplines.”
Among the notable 2018 faculty is current United States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Tracy K. Smith. Smith, who gave a reading to OSAI students and community members, served as guest artist.
The 2018 Institute included the induction of OSAI alumnus Paul Taggart into the Oklahoma Arts Institute Alumni Hall of Fame. Taggart, an accomplished photojournalist whose work has been featured in Newsweek, TIME Magazine, US News and World Report, and The New York Times, served as photography instructor.
“Through OSAI, Oklahoma’s most talented students have access to arts education of the highest quality,” said Julie Cohen, Oklahoma Arts Institute President & CEO. “An intense, creative energy is formed that fosters individual growth and a lifelong appreciation for the arts.”
“This year, I tried out for OSAI for the third time on oboe,” said Smith. “My first audition three years ago wasn’t great, but my second was. I was devastated not to make it, but I knew I wanted to try again. Now, after auditioning for my third year, I was selected as an oboist in the OSAI orchestra. I was so excited to be chosen! A few of my friends had gone in the past, and they raved about their experiences there.”
Quartz Mountain Nature Park is set between Lake Altus-Lugert and the rocky Quartz Mountains. The arts and conference center boasts a 700-seat performing arts center, versatile studio pavilions, and beautiful views.
During ONSTAGE Weekend, a highlight of OSAI, each students’ work was showcased to celebrate the final days of the Institute. Performances and gallery openings were open to the public with no charge for admission. All students were featured in final performances or presentations during ONSTAGE Weekend June 22-23. A full public performance schedule can be found online: oaiquartz.org/student-performances
The Oklahoma Arts Institute (OAI) is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1977, with a mission to provide exceptional multidisciplinary arts experiences that develop individual talent and inspire a lifelong passion for the arts. In addition to the Summer Arts Institute, OAI administers a series of continuing education workshops for adults every fall.
Stillwater students’ scholarships are made possible through funding from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the following donors: Brattain Scholars Fund, Sarkeys Foundation Scholars Fund, Additional program support is provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation, Sharna and Irvin Frank Foundation, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, and Zarrow Foundations. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.