Ogden Contemporary Arts held the grand opening of their new center on Feb. 12 in the Monarch building at 2444 Washington Blvd.
Venessa Castagnoli, executive director at OCA, has been working with many other art-invested individuals in the Ogden community to bring globally-recognized artists to the blooming artistic community of Ogden.
“Our vision is to create and share culturally diverse and globally influenced technology advanced arts programming,” Castagnoli said. “We want to bring in artists from all over the world who are recognized in the art world — not only that, however, we want these artists coming in to work with our local creatives.”
After COVID-19 threw a wrench in their gears, as it did for so many others, OCA had to shut its doors for a while and regroup. The grand opening was held after a successful soft-open exhibition in January.
OCA featured the art of world-renowned artist Lauren Lee McCarthy to kick off the grand opening. The interactive piece is called “The Changing Room.”
“The Changing Room” is a multi-medium technological exploration of humankind’s relationship with technology emotionally, sensorially and spatially, as well as what it all means to each of us subjectively and collectively.
A lot of the things that McCarthy has been thinking about during the COVID-19 pandemic made it into the piece.
Upon recommendation from a fellow board member, Castagnoli reached out to McCarthy about bringing her piece to the OCA center.
McCarthy worked her creative vision off-site for much of the process during the shutdown, working with photos, floor plans and 3D prints of the OCA building.
While the installation, by the same name, was also shown in Brisbane, Australia, McCarthy made adaptations to “The Changing Room” specifically unique to the OCA center and Ogden.
McCarthy said that, in “The Changing Room,” guests go to one of the rooms and are asked, “How do you want to feel?” They are then given 200 different emotions to choose from and then the room reacts accordingly.
“The whole space you are in tries to — through light, sound, images, text — make you feel,” McCarthy said.
There were lots of laughs from next-door business neighbors Amy and Vivi Wanderley-Britt, owners of WB’s Eatery, as they both described the environment of the OCA’s space and the types of technologies shown in the installation.
“We thought it was interactive,” Amy Wanderley-Britt said. “We sat down on the seats and actually thought that we were controlling the panels. There was a point that it seemed like it was being impacted by the amount of pressure you were putting on it or something.”
They laughed as they recounted how they thought the tablets in the installation were either measuring the tone of your voice, which point on the screen you touch or the temperature of your hands.
“I thought it was going to be an ever-changing story depending on which word you touched,” Amy Wanderley-Britt said. “But Venessa Castagnoli came down and told me that there is someone controlling it upstairs, and I was like, ‘Oh, okay….’ Isn’t that sort of how life feels anyways?”
McCarthy expressed that the team of collaborators she worked with on “The Changing Room” who helped to make her exhibition a successful and welcoming show and the OCA’s support were all she could have hoped for.
“I realized I appreciate a setting like OCA’s,” McCarthy said. “I appreciate this atmosphere so much more – like, the city is rather small here, but the space to work with is big. I get a chance to hear people’s comments and we can share thoughts on the piece.”
“The Changing Room” will be displayed at the center through May 31.
The OCA’s art center can be accessed through the first door to the west of the Monarch building’s main entrance. Admittance is free to all.