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Oklahoma State University

OSU students to present research on public art in Stillwater

Wed, October 12, 2016
Photo by Jennifer Borland.

Art history students at Oklahoma State University have conducted research on the Bronco Buster statue in downtown Stillwater and will present their findings at the 2016 Oklahoma Arts Conference on Tuesday, Oct. 25. 

Students from two classes, Art History Survey II and History of American Art, have been researching the statue’s history and why it was selected for the traffic roundabout at 10th and Main. They held a demonstration on Oct. 1 to bring attention to the sculpture as well as survey the community’s thoughts on it.

Senior art history major Bianca Martucci-Fink of Edmond said this project allows students to learn how public art continually affects society. 

“We studied Frederic Remington and his Bronco Buster,” Martucci-Fink said. “This statue’s presence in Stillwater has turned out to be a really great opportunity for art history students to engage in "real-life" art-based issues and discussions that we wouldn't normally get to experience in class.” 

Getting students to engage with the public in a way that is both academic and interesting is one goal professors and long-time research collaborators, Drs. Louise Siddons and Jennifer Borland, hoped to accomplish with this project. Local public art became the obvious focus for this joint project.

“The Bronco Buster is both relatively new to town and based on work by an artist, Frederic Remington, who I always cover in my American Art class,” Siddons said. “Its acquisition was a collaboration between the City of Stillwater and the downtown Business Improvement District, so it offered an interesting example of public art policy/development.”

Siddons said the process had several stages, the first of which was to research the Bronco Buster and create questions to ask the public. The students surveyed members of the community at their public demonstration and will now take the results back into the classroom to analyze and compile their findings. 

Students will first present their research at a community conversation at the Stillwater Public Library on Oct. 17. They will then present the entire project to a panel with two distinguished public artists, Jonathan Hils and Adam Lanman, at the Oklahoma Arts Conference on Oct. 25.

 “My primary teaching goal with this project was to encourage students to connect the conversations we have in the classroom to the decisions that get made in “real life” – often, art history can seem disconnected and purely academic, but in fact, communities make decisions about art all the time, and we’re surrounded by art in our day-to-day life,” Siddons said.

Martucci-Fink said she wants members of the community and people around the state to understand the importance of public art. 

“I think the community can always benefit by becoming more informed about why certain decisions are made,” Martucci-Fink said.  “I also think it’s important for the public to know how and why the Bronco Buster statue was selected to ‘represent’ Stillwater and the downtown area.”

To see photos from the public demonstration, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/obliquicity/sets/72157673488575400.

For quick facts about The Bronco Buster statue, visit http://stillwater.org/docs/BroncoBuster_FactSheet.pdf.

Story by Katie Rosebrook