USAO News Bureau

Senior Displays Art Collages in Nontraditional Project

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

CHICKASHA – Karen Brady is a nontraditional student. At 55, she is taking “nontraditional” to another level. As a communication senior at the University of Science and Arts, Brady is giving her senior project a different twist. She is displaying original art collages October 13 at the USAO Art Gallery. That’s right, Friday the 13th.

Brady, who lives 10 miles west of Minco, said she loved the idea for the dark date.

“When [Regents Professor of Art] Cecil Lee approached me with the date of October 13th as a possibility, I knew I had to take it,” she said. Lee also is director of the USAO Art Gallery.

At 7 p.m., Brady will unveil her collage collection with homemade hors d’oeuvres outside the gallery. She also will give a short presentation about her creations.

Most colleges and universities describe “nontraditional” students as those who start as freshman at 21 years or older.

Brady felt that as a “nontraditional” student, she had a duty to do things differently.

“I thought about doing a slide show, but that seemed boring,” Brady said. “So since I am the only communication student to be graduating this fall, I decided to get out of the box and do something original. I am a non-traditional student; I wanted a non-traditional senior project.”

Dr. J.C. Casey, professor of communication and advisor to Brady, said Brady’s senior project is a reflection of today’s communication major’s needs.

“Karen is a good example of the broad diversity a communication student has to have these days,” Casey said. “She shows that she has truly mastered oral, written and visual communication skills. And besides that, it will be a fun performance.”

Four years ago, Brady attended an English composition class at Redlands Community College in El Reno. It was there that she discovered a love for creating artistic collages. For an assignment, she reconstructed Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” by creating a collage box. Inside were folded pieces of paper from which class members drew lots for the annual “stoning.”

Students also were given polished river rocks. Brady drew last. To her surprise, she drew the “black spot” indicating death by stoning.

“Luckily, everyone gave the rocks back rather than throwing them,” Brady said.

From there, Brady was hooked on collages. She started researching collage art and thought, “I can do better than this!” She began gathering old magazines, discarded library books and miscellaneous small objects she bought or found.

“It was a good excuse to haunt local antique stores, which I love to do,” she said. “Sometimes I discover the coolest things, especially old photographs. Once I had a collection of materials, I started putting them together.”

Brady’s mixed media artwork consists of collages on canvas made from her finds. Each piece is constructed from an amalgam of collected items including paper, acrylics, bottle caps, glass and wooden beads, feathers, crystals, sea shells, costume jewelry and even a skeleton or two. Her pieces are colorful, three dimensional statements.

Originally, Brady started making the assemblages for herself. But as friends and family started asking for pieces as gifts, she realized that her art could bless others as well.

“I was amazed and gratified that other people liked my stuff as much as I did,” Brady said. “I was really flattered when my older sister, an artist since childhood, actually paid me for a collage.”

Brady said her collages allow her to express a “sense of the absurd, the bizarre and the ridiculous.” She said she hopes her pieces get people thinking.

“My art is whimsical, ridiculous, political and, I hope, intriguing,” she said. ”I would like to think [it is] also thought provoking, but I imagine the thought provoked most often is, ‘What the hell is she thinking?’”

The communication senior warns that some pieces are controversial, as evidenced by a series she calls, “The Naughty Bits,” which has sexual overtones.

Although this is Brady’s first art show, it isn’t the last. Brady is scheduled to display her works in February or March of 2007 at the Velvet Monkey Salon on N.W. 63rd and May in Oklahoma City. An exact date has not yet been set.

After graduation, Brady plans to pursue a career in journalism, with enough time on the side to continue collecting bits and pieces necessary for her artwork. Currently, she is a copy editor and reporter for the Chickasha Express-Star and USAO’s student newspaper, The Trend.

The art show/communication senior project is free and open to the public. Most of Brady’s pieces will be for sale. The USAO Art Gallery is located in Davis Hall, room 1374.