When students go to college, usually their goal is to gain skills and experience that will allow them to pursue their career paths. The Ogden Museum of Contemporary Art, founded by Weber State University students, aims to do just that.
When JP Orquiz and Lara McNair were sitting in class together, listening to one of their professors tell them that they have the ability to do great things, they came up with the idea to start a contemporary art project of their own.
“He was giving us a pep talk when he told us that, but I don’t think he understood what it planted,” McNair said. Orquiz and McNair founded OMOCA and soon after invited their friend Alessandor Rachael to be their curator.
“Why sit around and wait for opportunities when we can make the opportunities happen?” said McNair.
The three are part of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at WSU. The goal of OMOCA is to create a contemporary collaborative platform for exhibiting work in the Ogden area. Right now, the goal for the program is to host shows in unusual spaces until a permanent site is established. So far, the two shows that have been held in McNair’s and Rachael’s basements. However, OMOCA is set to have an exhibit at the Union Station with Nurture the Creative Mind in April.
Another unique aspect about OMOCA is that it was put together entirely by students and professors.
“That’s one thing I love about the show—everything was done by different students in class, so everyone had their bit of helping,” McNair said. The current show that OMOCA has on display is in Rachael’s house, and it uses the idea of Proxemics, the study of personal space.
Rachael curated the show, meaning she put everything together the way she thought would work the best.
“My work is about conversation, and I wanted to know what other people’s approaches to these concepts were, and I wanted to put them all together under one roof,” Rachael said.
The shows have been well-attended so far, so the conversation has been going as Rachael expected.
“I wanted to have people to respond to their idea of domesticity or intimacy, personal space becoming public space. It’s also a big thing in the art world that galleries aren’t really always the best place to show things,” Rachael said.
The idea of having shows in “pop up” spaces is becoming more popular, she added.
“That’s definitely what OMOCA is doing right now,” McNair said.
While the theme of OMOCA is unusual space, the other part of it is giving undergrads in the program a chance to curate, as well as feature their art, so that when the graduate, they have experience. Because it’s off campus, it gives students the chance to be independent and learn marketable skills.
While the current exhibit features students predominantly, OMOCA currently has art from friends of Rachael based in Los Angeles and Australia. The curator is in charge of putting the show together, which means that the show isn’t just WSU students.
Although the exhibit is put together by BFA students and professors, you don’t have to be an art buff to attend the show.
“The shows are open to the public, we’re trying to open up the art scene in Utah, especially the contemporary art scene in Ogden,” McNair said.
Getting students off campus and into the community and getting the community to recognize the art programs at WSU is another goal that OMOCA is focusing on.
“I think OMOCA is one of the coolest things I’ve done with my life,” McNair said.
Seeing the idea that she and her friends set out to create become a success has been an eye-opener for McNair.
“I love the fact that it was a spontaneous idea, but it was so welcomed by friends, professors and Ogden,” she said.
Rachael added that the idea of OMOCA is a great one and that being involved has also been a great experience for her. “I’m honored to have been selected as a guest curator, and I really enjoyed putting this show together,” she said.
OMOCA is a resource for art students at WSU. It allows them to take what they’ve learned and apply it in the real world. They are able to mingle with other artists and create a show that the community as a whole can enjoy.
OMOCA will have a new show April 1 in the Union Station with Nurture the Creative Mind. If you want to see the current exhibit for OMOCA, visit their Facebook page.