For the second consecutive year, Okmulgee native Carmen Taylor was selected as the winning muralist at the annual Food for Thought event Tuesday evening.
Nearly 170 people from the Okmulgee and OSU Institute of Technology communities took part in the event. Four finalists presented their designs for the east wall of the Grand Old Post Office building, OSUIT’s newest student housing facility.
Each attendee voted for their favorite and Taylor, an OSUIT alumna, was announced as this year’s winner.
Her mural, designed to look like a postage stamp to pay homage to the building’s history, features a bronco-riding cowboy along with symbols of different OSUIT programs highlighted in the design.
“It illustrates the cowboy spirit of the school and the state,” Taylor said. “The 46 cent price is in reference to the year the school was founded, 1946, and the 46 students who enrolled that first year.”
OSUIT President Bill R. Path emceed the event and said he was impressed with all the artists’ designs and the background work that went into their pieces.
“Each artist took the guidelines we laid out and came up with something unique that incorporated the history of this century-old building along with the history of OSUIT in the Okmulgee community,” Path said. “They all put so much time and detail and real research into their designs, it was a shame we could only choose one because each one is a real work of art.”
Taylor graduated from OSUIT’s School of Arts and Sciences with an Associate in Science in Pre-Education in 2004 before she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree in education from East Central University.
She now teaches art as well as works as a professional artist. Her “Welcome to Okmulgee…” mural design was chosen at last year’s Food for Thought event and now adorns the second story east wall of the Sneed Building and can be seen driving into downtown Okmulgee.
Taylor said she’s glad she could once again take part in the event that involves her hometown and her alma mater.
“I love being able to have that connection. It’s not just art, it has a meaning behind it, and not just for the community but for me,” she said.
The other finalists were Aaron Whisner, owner and art director of Clean Hands Inc.; Nick Bayer, of CreateCo.; and Bob Palmer, owner of Palmer Studios.
“I loved how each of us had a different frame of mind and had different styles,” Taylor said. “It was great to be able to compete with them.”
This year’s Food for Thought mural project for the OSUIT’s building is in conjunction with Okmulgee Main Street and Okmulgee Tourism.
“Food for Thought is perfect. To have the community involved so they have a stake in their hometown. They can take a sense of pride in it,” she said.
Installation of the mural is set to begin around the time of the Harvest Spoon Chili Festival in late October.