Quartz magic all over Oklahoma


Photo Provided

While learning at OSAI, students can explore the scenic wonders of Quartz Mountain.

Kelsi Seltenreich, Memorial Staff Writer

The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI) has taken place at Quartz Mountain Arts & Conference Center since 1977. For the health and safety of everyone involved, they decided to convert the in-person experience at Quartz Mountain State Park to an all virtual program for the summer of 2020. While the experience was different than previous years, students still grew and learned valuable lessons for their discipline and in life.

There were eight different disciplines at OSAI and around 260 students were chosen. Memorial was well represented by Mia Lashley and Lourdes Tovar (Chorus), Sadie Hollrah and Nathan Wright (Creative Writing), Hannah White (Dance), Celina Zhao (Orchestra) and Turner Bernardi and Chloe Dean (Photography). Acting, Drawing & Painting and Film & Video were also studied.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how they handled all of the online stuff,” Hollrah said.

Utilizing Zoom and Google Classrooms, OSAI made the online program better than most students could have imagined. Each discipline had different schedules throughout the day, however all eight disciplines came together for a one hour guest artist presentation every night.

“My favorite part was probably the guest speakers at the end of the day because we got to hear from some really cool people and artists in various fields,” Zhao said.

The presenters were Misty Copeland (dancer part of the American Ballet Theatre), Keith Carter (successful photographer), Kelli O’Hara (Broadway actress) and Jad Abumrad (host of podcast: Radio Lab). They each have a career in a different discipline of OSAI, however all students took something away from each presentation.

“Carter’s presentation stuck out to me because his story inspired me. In his presentation he talks about how his style of photography is always evolving and to give things a second look because even if we hate our photographs other people might find something they love about them,” Dean said.

Carter discussed how sometimes mistakes aren’t always a bad thing, and even in the most troubled times the beauty can be found. Those lessons are not only valuable to photographers, but all of the students at OSAI.

Each discipline had at least two teachers and liaisons. The students could tell that the faculty cared about them, and they were shaping them to be the best they could be.

“My instructors were Angela Harris and Andrew Palermo. They taught me how to take life one step at a time and to work hard,” White said.

At Quartz Mountain, students would sleep in cabins with other students from many different disciplines and sometimes even become lifelong friends. While they couldn’t do this online, they still had nightly cabin meetings. Each night “cabins” would have a Zoom call to talk about the day, play games and make connections.

On Oct. 1, Quartz Mountain will move to be managed under the Oklahoma Department of Tourism, and the lease of having OSAI at Quartz Mountain will be re-evaluated. Students hope things will remain the same, and OSAI will take place at Quartz Mountain forever.

Auditions for next year will be sometime between January and March, and hopefully will lead to an in-person experience.

Although OSAI took place through a screen this year, students agree that the Quartz magic was still there.

Contact Kelsi Seltenreich at [email protected]