Crafting Community Creativity
At home with Sara Cowan
For Sara Cowan, art and the creative process are about more than just creating something beautiful. While that is true of the result, her passion for creating art and helping others experience it makes the material all the more meaningful.
What is your background?
Norman is my hometown, and I’m lucky to live close enough to my parents to see them regularly. As a young child, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was a teacher and an artist, and she taught me how to sew and create. I find myself doing a lot of things I know she’d enjoy.
I earned a degree in journalism from UCO, which led me to work at the Tulsa World for a few years before I moved to Oxford, England.
Living abroad made me miss certain parts of Oklahoma, specifically the friendliness of Okies. When I returned to Oklahoma, I taught high school journalism at Millwood, which I really enjoyed. But my teacher salary barely covered my son’s daycare expenses so I stayed home with him for a few years, using sewing and crafting as my creative outlet.
How did you come to be at Factory Obscura?
I started painting as a meditative, calming practice, and after a couple of years I had developed a style I was proud of. Dusty Gilpin gave me my first solo show at Tree & Leaf. That was around the same time I created the OKC ART TEAM as a way to encourage creatives to call themselves artists no matter their experience level, especially kids. I still love to see the stickers on people’s cars. I feel like those are my people.
When the Factory Obscura collective was forming and starting to build the first immersive experience, SHIFT, at Current Studio, I was very interested in becoming involved and I expressed that. When it came time to plan the Midnight Dinner (fundraiser), I was invited to join that project because I had relevant skills, and have been part of Factory Obscura ever since.
For the readers that don’t know about Factory Obscura and “MixTape,” could you give a little background?
Factory Obscura is a collective of about 30 Oklahoma City artists of many disciplines who work together to build immersive experiences. “MixTape” is our third project and our first permanent one. It’s a 6,000-square foot attraction, and people of all ages love it. It’s an artistic expression of six different emotions that you might express when you make someone a mixtape – there are rooms for joy, melancholy, love and more.
What medium do you most like to create with? … Or pick a few!
Murals are always so much fun! I would love to paint murals every month. At home, acrylic paints are my preferred medium, and I use those on birch panels. I always use very colorful and sometimes chaotic color schemes. I’m also a “sewist” and quilter.
Do you have a favorite artist or someone you consider a mentor?
It is impossible to pick just one! Some of my local favorites are Faye Miller, Ebony Iman Dallas, Virginia Sitzes, Jack Fowler and Skip Hill. My favorite journalism professor, Dr. Terry Clark, has focused on watercolor painting during his retirement and I keep buying his more whimsical pieces. I have been lucky to collaborate with a lot of local artists I admire.
Kris Kanaly has been really helpful to me as I get more mural experience. My students at OKC Girls Art School are all pretty awesome, too.
For more information on Sara Cowan, visit her Instagram at @_saracowan.