New interim Department of Theatre head works with residents on Stillwater mural project
Monday, October 17, 2022
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On July 1, Lee Brasuell assumed the position as new interim head of theatre at Oklahoma State University and looks forward to improving different areas of the arts, and inspiring the people who work in them, in Oklahoma.
As associate professor of design, head of design and technology, and the Mary Lou Lemon Endowed Professor for Underrepresented Voices, Brasuell’s passion did not begin when he was granted the position.
Brasuell has long loved the arts and has been given the opportunity to work on many productions because of his technical and design skills across the U.S. For instance, he created aerial and circus rigs in the Chicago productions of Lookinglass Alice, Peter Pan and several other productions.
He has had a successful career in set design and technical production and does his best to help inspire his students by teaching them about all aspects of the industry. In Brasuell’s new position he plans to promote the arts across all platforms — not just in theatre.
He is currently working to bring more artwork into the Stillwater community. Brasuell has already demonstrated his capabilities by starting a back-to-back project to create murals for the Roxie Weber Plaza Housing Authority in collaboration with the Prairie Arts Center. The Oklahoma Arts Council, the Vaughn Vennerberg II Endowed Chair in Art and the Mary Lou Lemon Endowed Professorship for Underrepresented Voices have all contributed funding to see this project through.
The project itself was initiated by a resident at the Roxie Weber complex and funding was granted before COVID-19. The collaborative efforts from the Prairie Arts Center, the residents and an artist were going to create artwork for the space. Brasuell was not originally the artist to create art for this space. However, the pandemic caused the collaborators to lose contact with the original artist stopping the project in its tracks.
That is until the director of the Prairie Arts Center approached him and asked him to create something for this space.
In addition to his talent, Brasuell is a proponent of community art.
“I wanted to bring in different artists with different perspectives, different backgrounds with a diverse array to paint these murals,” Brasuell said.
He has made it his mission to bring in local artists and community members to help with this project, in hopes that it will be continuous. Using a graffiti style of art, Brasuell and other prospective artists will help fill the walls of a concrete ramp to highlight and honor important parts of the Stillwater community in several phases.
The first mural was phase one of this project and was created by Brasuell alone. The idea behind the mural is to help redefine the traditional meaning of “pioneer.” The mural highlights individuals and ideas that helped define Stillwater and Oklahoma in history. Encapsulated in the word “Pioneers,” the mural features Standing Bear, Nancy Randolph Davis, Angie Debo, Bob Childers, T. Boone Pickens, Pioneer women, Barry Sanders, the concept of unity “Song for the People,” Frank Boardman “Pistol Pete” Eaton and the Roxie Weber Plaza Housing Authority. It also uses bold colors to represent Oklahoma’s sunset, OSU and the city of Stillwater.
In the second mural, or phase two, Brasuell — along with his son — actually assisted artist and head of the Chickasaw Art Program, Brent Greenwood. They made Greenwood’s mural a collaborative effort by creating a doodle grid, where community members of Roxie Weber spray painted whatever they wanted on the wall. Then, Greenwood used this as a guide to create his mural which represents Native and Western heritages. While the first mural uses colors to represent the summer, this one will use colors to represent autumn and the Oklahoma flag.
“I want to showcase the arts in Oklahoma,” Brasuell said. “My wife and I made the decision that we wanted to give back to the art community in Oklahoma. For me that’s always been important. This is one of the ways I get to do that — one way I can give back.”
Now that the two anchor pieces are completed, they will get ready to begin phase three, which will focus on Oklahoma’s heritage. He has already recruited more artists who will come and fill in the rest of the walls. Once this ramp has been completed, Brasuell hopes to continue filling the housing complex, and even all of Stillwater with art, if allowed the opportunity.
Photos By: Allie Putman and Lee Brasuell
Story By: Allie Putman | email@example.com