Community-Driven - 405 Magazine


Arts advocate Virginia Sitzes is calling all creatives.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander.

Arts advocate Virginia Sitzes is calling all creatives.

I’ve always viewed art as individually driven. Each work represents the unique talent and message of a single artist, and art is interpreted through one’s own subjective lens. However, after sitting down with printmaker, muralist and arts advocate Virginia Sitzes, I’ve begun to see art differently. 

With a passion for bringing artists together, Sitzes co-founded Art Group and Sunny Dayz Mural Festival, two welcoming platforms for emerging and underrepresented artists. She also collaborates with the Oklahoma Arts Institute, the Department of Education’s Art Tech program, and print exchange Connect: Collect, to boost creatives and support their art. Artists need community, and Sitzes is always connecting. 

When it comes to carrying Art Group and Sunny Dayz forward, what keeps you going? 

I see it as a win-win; I see no negative coming out of supporting artists and art here. I think one piece of art, even if it only makes one person feel not so alone and think, “Oh my God, someone else had that thought and felt that way” — that’s worth it. Art changes lives consistently.

Why is supporting local artists so important to you?

I really care about the arts in Oklahoma. I believe that art has a lot of secret-agent power to create change because people experience art every day and they have no idea. So I think creating these communities, projects and initiatives is not just bettering the arts in Oklahoma, but actually bettering the culture at large here. There are really devastating things that happen in this state. I often do feel like I want to go somewhere where I feel more supported as a female, as an artist — but if everyone leaves, how is change going to happen? 

With a mission to uplift female and nonbinary artists, Sunny Dayz Mural Festival has landed in both the Britton District and Edmond. Where to next?

With Sunny Dayz, after the first few years of going into more established places and getting those experiences under our belts, we want to take it to rural places and really blast them with public art. You see where the funding goes in this state, and it’s not [going] to rural art education. Art introduces new ways of thinking, and I think that’s important. Everyone should be a critical thinker.

Describe your art.

My personal work is colorful, abstract, experimental and process-driven. I really like making and making and making, and having it be a very intuitive process … My most recent work has been exploring internal landscapes. We’re made up of so many layers, especially in the form of memories. Some are really apparent when you go back to them, while others are covered up. That’s a lot of what I’ve been thinking about lately: what shows through, what gets covered up.

What advice do you give emerging artists?

You need a team — a great team — and a solid support system. When I’m really feeling really [bad], there’s going to be someone else that isn’t in that space who can help me with a different perspective or just be there with me. I couldn’t do it without every single person involved.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander.