Inclusion in Art is dedicated to promoting racial and cultural diversity in Oklahoma’s visual arts community through exhibitions, workshops, creative projects and lectures.

Inclusion in Art continues to support artists of color by connecting communities through socially conscious presentations that challenge the mind and embrace progressive thought.

Panel 1

Inclusion In Art Mentor Program

Inclusion in Art’s mentorship program is a year-long project where artists of color are provided with the tools and resources to successfully engage Oklahoma’s visual arts community. Including but not limited to:

  • The opportunity to develop a strong body of work through feedback and studio visits
  • Identifying resources available to visual artists locally and nationally
  • Connecting with seasoned artists that inspire them
  • Guidance in writing grants and artist statements
  • The opportunity to have their work showcased at a prominent gallery space

Committee members Amena Butler and Suzanne Thomas guide mentorship artists based on individual needs in order to give them the best opportunity to continue accessing the community after the program is complete.

The Inclusion In Art mentorship program began in 2017 as a short-term exploration of pairing mid-career artist, Howard Koerth, with emerging artist, Jaiye Farrell. These two artists worked together for a month to put on a two-person exhibition that was held at 1219 Creative that year. Following the first iteration of the mentorship, the group set out to explore this project further by incorporating educational components and working with the artists for a longer period of time.

In 2018, the group would select artists Shannon Smith and Gabriel Rojas to participate in the multiple month-long program. With the guidance of the art committee, both artists managed to secure project funding through OVAC’s grant opportunities, connect with artists who inspire them, put together a two-person exhibition at Oklahoma Contemporary and find and secure opportunities to exhibit their work locally and nationally.

Inclusion In Art’s mentorship is an opportunity held annually for emerging and student artists of color.

Panel 2

Emerge 2022/23 Reshon Shirley

Reshon Shirley is a fully self-taught artist who paints botanical pieces with watercolor and ink. Reshon uses these mediums to combine worlds that normally would not exist. By merging the fluidity of watercolor washes and the rigidity of ink shading, she creates a sense of balance between the two mediums. Painting botanicals by way of houseplants and flowers, Reshon is able to give the viewer a glimpse into what it means to forge relationships between humans and the natural world. She wants to show viewers that gazing and caring for plants provides a feeling of peace, joy and even accomplishment. Providing care for something other than ourselves allows us to feel needed. Additionally, looking at something that’s naturally beautiful can cause us to pause for just a minute. In that small instance, all the troubles of the day fade away.

It was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that she began painting again as a way to pass the time. Flowers and greenery are what brought her the most peace in a time when the world was full of chaos. Reshon has now decided to embark on a full-time creative career with the hopes of bringing this sense of peace to others. She is currently residing in Yukon, Oklahoma with her husband and dog.

Panel 3

Curate 2022/23: Joy Tucker

Joy Tucker is a Black American woman born and raised in Clovis, New Mexico. She received her B.A. in History – Museum Studies with a minor in Graphic Design from the University of Central Oklahoma. Joy was a 2021 ArtTable Fellowship recipient of the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center and interned with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Marketing and Communications. She also interned twice with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The first with Junior Curator practices in Culture and Community Life, focusing on African American history, followed by Museum Management and Installation. Joy aspires to present African and Afro-diasporic arts and culture within national museum institutions.