Memorial students attend 2021 OSAI


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OSAI painting and drawing student Madeline Wallace observes her work during instructional class time.

Avery Hamlin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI) is an esteemed summer camp that allows young artists all across Oklahoma to further explore their passion with distinguished professionals on a full scholarship. The camp offers a two-week intensive for disciplines such as dance, chorus, orchestra, acting, creative writing, photography, film and video, and drawing and painting. Being a highly competitive audition process, attendees are always thrilled to be a part of such a unique and valuable experience.

This year, Edmond Memorial was lucky enough to be represented by 14 talented students in a wide variety of disciplines. These students include: High School Alumni: Rachel Adler (drawing and painting). Seniors: Avery Hamlin (chorus), Lauren Laundhart (chorus), Hallie Hunt (acting), Kenzie Irby (acting), Hannah White (dance), Chloe Dean (photography), Madeline Wallace (drawing and painting), Raegan Alexander (orchestra). Juniors: Joe Kelley (chorus), Mia Lashley (chorus), Ella Latham (chorus), Kelsi Seltenreich (dance), Stephanie Cromer (orchestra). Sophomores: Macy Orvis (dance), Elyse Janzen (drawing and painting), Libby Snyder (orchestra). 

The institute for the 2021 camp was moved from the typical Quartz Mountain resort to University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) to allow for more space for COVID precautions and for the resort to have time to renovate for next year’s camp. Due to COVID and this move, a lot of disciplines had to adjust their audition process as well as adjust to the new space at USAO. 

“The audition process was very different this year. Usually, we would have a two hour dance class with judges in the room,” second year OSAI student Seltenreich said. “This year, we had to record nine different videos and submit them online. Actually being there with the other dancers is a much different vibe than submitting online.”

Although this year’s audition process was very different for all disciplines, the experience from this year’s two-week camp was worth enduring the new and slightly confusing process of auditioning online. 

“OSAI was an eye-opening experience for me,” first year OSAI student Wallace said. “Working with such amazing and talented instructors completely changed my outlook on the creative process of an artist and forced me to try new approaches to art.”

Drawing and painting, as well as photography, had the opportunity to go on multiple field trips to various places around Oklahoma to collect inspiration from different surroundings. For the drawing and painting students, 2021 instructor Lisa Lebofsky allowed her students to step outside the boundaries of paint and paper and use the environment around them to paint such as using dirt and sticks as the paint and paintbrush. 

For the photography students, photography instructor Claire Warden completely transformed the way the students view photography as a medium. Warden and her partner David Adams introduced many of the students to historical photographic techniques for the first time using a darkroom and film.

“OSAI pushed me in ways I haven’t been pushed in a long time and taught me so many things not only about photography but about myself,” second year OSAI student Dean said. “It is hard to find classes for photography in Oklahoma so going to OSAI was such an amazing learning experience.”

Acting students had the unique opportunity to collaborate with the talented film and video team to create a work of art that combined live performance and media. 

“My favorite performance was our collaboration with the film discipline,” first year OSAI student Irby said. “Getting to work together with people who want nothing but to see you succeed and perform for people who want to experience your art really does make everything so worthwhile.”

2021 choral students had the luxury of working with not one but two wonderful conductors, Pearl Shangkaun and Cari Earnhart. Shangkuan and Earnhart brought their worldly knowledge of choral music to OSAI as they have both directed many choirs abroad.

“Singing at the concerts was so wonderful,” first year OSAI student Laundhart said. “There was something so magical about singing with such a big group of talented singers, especially after this wild year for performers due to COVID.”

Being full-online this past year has made a lot of artists and performers realize how easy it is to take opportunities like OSAI for granted. Being together and surrounded by other young passionate artists and learning from the best of the best for two full weeks is something special.

“I think everyone thinking about auditioning should,” Seltenreich said. “OSAI was one of the best experiences of my life and unlike anything I have ever done before. It’s life changing.”

Contact Avery Hamlin at [email protected]