Oklahoma Christian University Student Founds Off-Campus Art Studio

Oklahoma Christian Universtiy student Christopher Sartin adds his work to a community mural at Sumner Brock's art studio.
Oklahoma Christian University student Christopher Sartin adds his work to a community mural at Sumner Brock’s art studio.
  • Oklahoma Christian University cut funding to the art program, resulting in a loss of studio space for students.
  • In response to these cuts, student Sumner Brock has founded an apartment Art Studio.
  • Brock hopes that his studio will give students a place to work, and will bring glory to God.

Oklahoma Christian University cut funding for its art program for the 2014-2015 school year, due to budgetary constraints, which led to a reduction in available studio space for art students. In response, junior graphic design major Sumner Brock, 20,  rented an apartment, and spent two weeks turning it into an appropriate studio space.

Many Forms of Inspiration

“I felt really good vibes here,” Brock said about the apartment space. “I like the idea that art is a light, so we’re shining light, through art.”

His decision to found his own art studio was inspired in part by an experience he had over fall break, in 2014. While undertaking a short internship at a wood-block letterpress in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brock was inspired by the community and hospitality that the artists there shared with him. After this experience, he had a desire to create something similar for the visual art students in the Oklahoma City area.

But what really convinced him to embark on this project was when the author of “Blue like Jazz,” Donald Miller, gave a speech at Oklahoma Christian University.

“Donald Miller [said] you need a project to go work on, and you need to do it,” Brock said. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Money and Aesthetics 

Brock’s choice of an apartment was not a snap decision. He considered renting professional studio space, and small warehouses, but after consulting with friends, family and his art mentors, he decided on establishing his studio in an apartment. In addition, he hoped that the casual nature of the apartment would help the artists who came to relax and form a community.

But ultimately, the decision largely came down to money.

“I’m cheap, and other places were really expensive,” Brock said.

Some students who see the value in the art studio, even if they are not art majors themselves.

“This place is really cool,” said Micah Holland, 20, a sophomore psychology major at Oklahoma Christian University. “I don’t do art, but if I did, this would be the place I’d want to go.

Not Everyone Values the Space

Other students don’t see the loss of studio space the same way Brock does.

“I haven’t been affected by the budget cuts,” said Luke Libby, a junior animation and design major at Oklahoma Christian University. “But most of what I do is on the computer.”

So far, he and a small cohort of friends have hosted a meal every Friday evening, hoping to attract new artists, and help to create friendships between artists who used the space.

The decor Brock has managed to find lends the space a spartan but creative feel. Posters, whiteboards and canvases line the walls, and the floor of the main room is covered in a painter’s drop-cloth, and the mismatched furniture lends the place a certain artistic charm.

“I hope that our art can become amazing, show God’s light and show that Christians can actually make good art,” Brock said. “I don’t care what [the studio] looks like, as long as there is community, good art and God dwells in it.”

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