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From left: Reps. Trish Ranson and John Talley and Sen. Tom Dugger speak during the DNA IV dedication ceremony.

Amplifying Art

Monday, December 2, 2019

‘DNA IV’ sculpture adds another ‘wow factor’ to The McKnight Center

A 12-foot twisted ribbon-like bronze sculpture anchors the outdoor plaza at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, where surround sound and a giant screen offer new ways for the community to interact with art at Oklahoma State University.

The Bill Barrett masterpiece DNA IV, one of six original sculptures included in the award-winning artist’s DNA series, is the latest addition to the university’s permanent art collection.

The sculpture’s installation was the result of a partnership between OSU and the Oklahoma Arts Council as part of the state’s Art in Public Places program. The program, signed into law in 2004, requires eligible state capital improvement projects include 1.5 percent of their overall budget for public art that represents the history and values of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Arts Council co-hosted the dedication for the sculpture on Sept. 27, two weeks before The McKnight Center opened with fanfare.

“It’s like a really demonstrative conductor, but also lyrical in the way it soars and dives,” President Burns Hargis told the crowd at the dedication.

He added that OSU’s campus wide Neo-Georgian architecture created a wonderful backdrop to DNA IV and other pieces of art that have been installed over the past few years.

“We wanted a wow factor, and I think we can say that about The McKnight Center, and we can say it about this piece by Bill Barrett,” he said.

Victoria Berry, director of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art and chair of the Public Art Committee, welcomed state Sen. Tom Dugger and Reps. Trish Ranson and John Talley to the dedication. She said their presence demonstrated that state leaders understand how public art resonates with people and enlivens communities. 

“It’s said that where words fail, art speaks,” Ranson said. “I believe DNA IV is aptly named as DNA is the basis of all life. This is a guardian to our new McKnight Center, and I’m thrilled we have this new sculpture.”

Ranson, Talley and Dugger read a legislative proclamation that sent best wishes to OSU and the Oklahoma Arts Council and highlighted the significance of providing public art to Oklahomans.

“DNA IV will serve as an iconic symbol for years to come, reflecting and advancing ideals embodied at Oklahoma State University as a center of intellectual and cultural life,” Ranson read from the proclamation.

The dedication also featured a special performance by Oklahoma City-based Perpetual Motion Dance. The group used a giant piece of white silk to emulate through their choreography the lyrical rhythm of the sculpture as performers danced on the outdoor plaza.

Mark Blakeman, the Marilynn and Carl Thoma Executive Director for The McKnight Center, said he was excited to have the work of a well-known sculptor displayed outside the new facility.

“DNA IV is a thought-provoking piece and a physical representation of the commitment to the arts we hope to showcase every day at The McKnight Center,” Blakeman said.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said the public art process deepens the connection between universities and the communities they serve.

“DNA IV will meaningfully contribute to the student experience by engendering pride and provoking dialogue from diverse perspectives,” she said. “It will be an effective bridge to the Stillwater community, advancing quality of life for thousands of local residents and visitors from outside the area as they engage with the work when attending world-class programming at The McKnight Center.”

DNA IV is an extension of the OSU Museum of Art’s permanent art collection and will be highlighted during campus tours and various educational programs throughout the year.

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