By Catherine Crain
Image: Whitney Forsyth’s Reveal in the First Presbyterian Church atrium in Tulsa, photo by Catherine Crain
The arts in downtown Tulsa have expanded— First Presbyterian Church’s new venture Atrium Art brings contemporary art into a new space, facilitating dynamic conversations outside traditional galleries. Reveal features local ceramicist and First Presbyterian congregant Whitney Forsyth, whose elaborate ceramic collages fill the church’s communal areas. Using informational labels and her connection with the community, Forsyth successfully opens up the arts to a new Tulsa audience.
Reveal mirrors the colors of the church’s art and architecture as sculptural constellations of organic forms run within the arched molding and are nestled on the ground. The exhibition continues from the atrium through the second-floor passageways and into the Prayer Room, which hosts a bed of concentric rows of ceramic items like leaves, pebbles, and flowers, creating a meditative experience for visitors. Along with each work, Forsyth has written extended labels that comment on her inspiration behind each work and includes a corresponding biblical verse, a direct entry point into the work for church members.
Atrium’s new initiative engages with a new audience that may not attend traditional arts institutions. As an established member of both communities, Forsyth weaves her work into the religious setting and tells a story with each label, allowing the audience to connect with art through a new lens. The arts in Tulsa have begun to go beyond the traditional “white cube” model with public art and interactive spaces, but Reveal brings it into one of the most highly attended churches in downtown Tulsa, and harmoniously introduces contemporary art into a new communal space.