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Controversy answered at 'That Damn Art Woman'

PHOTO: That Damn Art Woman

"That Damn Art Woman" on display at the Gardiner Art Gallery in the Bartlett Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma on September 3, 2019.

The controversial art exhibit "That Damn Art Woman" is on display until Sept. 5 at The Gardiner Art Gallery in the Bartlett Center for the Visual Arts.

The exhibit centers on the controversy about who designed the historic Boston Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church South in Tulsa. It features drawings, letters, newspaper articles, art and other documents relating to the people and events.

Studio art senior Taylor Graham worked with Teresa Holder, the art manager of the Gardiner Gallery, on the exhibition. Graham said the argument surrounding who designed the church is what drew her interest.

“This is a controversy piece because a lot of people in the art and architectural world have this disagreement about who actually designed this church,” Graham said. “The church has always stood by the reiteration that Adah Robinson designed it. In the architectural world, most people believe Bruce Goff designed the church.”

Graham said the exhibit was named "That Damn Art Woman" because an architect at the firm Adah Robinson worked at would refer to her that way, mainly because he didn’t like working with a woman.

“If you start following the story line in the exhibit, you will see Adah develops the design of the church,” Graham said. “But towards the end, you see that after the church was built, Bruce gets credited as the designer.”

Graham said Holder worked hard to put the exhibit together.

“Teresa examined these questions of who really built this church and then went back in history to find all of the papers and facts that showed how Adah played into this,” Graham said. “She researched and went to multiple museums to dig up this history.”

Graham said one of her favorite artifacts from the exhibit is the century chest.

“This century chest was buried underground for a hundred years," Graham said. "It was dug up in 2013, but Adah’s painting was inside from 1913. The art league bought a section of the time capsule, and Adah’s painting was one of only three art pieces in the time capsule.”

After being involved with Holder and the unearthing of information regarding the exhibit, Graham was excited to see all the hard work come together. For Graham, the most rewarding part of helping with the exhibit was seeing the finished product.

“I saw how hard Teresa had worked coming up with all of this information, and then we had to make these panels for each artifact,” Graham said. “It was really incredible to see everything come together.”

Admission to view the exhibit is free for all students.