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Community Focus: New opportunities for artists of color in Oklahoma

Sofia Ferguson sits in front of some of her latest works as she talks about what sparked her interest in art (KOKH/Phil Cross).

Oklahoma City's artistic renaissance continues to inspire and shape the way the community is growing. The newly formed Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center has joined forces with the Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center with the goal to encourage artistic growth, and create new opportunities for artists of color.

The organization, open for less than a month, is already changing the world of one area artist.

Sofia Ferguson is an 11th grade student at Deer Creek High School, and already a talented artist. From famous faces, strangers, and dear friends, she loves to showcase the beauty of each person.

“Painting different contours of cheek bones and eyes, and everything because everyone is so different, and so it is just so beautiful to be able to paint that,” Ferguson.

Right now, Sofia's work is part to the art exhibit Chroma: Artists of Color in Oklahoma.

“That was really crazy for me because I never thought that one of my hobbies would be something that other people would want to see,” says Ferguson of her excitement over learning she would be a part of the exhibit.

The piece is a departure for Ferguson who prefers black and white portraits. It's the Virgen Maria, or Virgin Mary, in full color with a touch of American rock and roll. Ferguson says it speaks to her life and the lives of many others.

“I am Hispanic. I am also a girl from Oklahoma, so, especially when I went to Bogota, I identified more there as an American, but when I am here, I identify more as a Colombian…when you combine those together it is just this beautiful American identity, “says Ferguson.

Narciso Arguelles is Ferguson’s teacher, a fellow artist, and curator of the exhibit. Arguelles along with a group of dedicated Oklahoma artists just launched the Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center.

“As a group we can be that bridge to access and support our people.” Narciso Arguelles, Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center Executive Director and Deer Creek High School art teacher.

The center is years in the making. Arguelles says it took the right combination of people with the right talents to bring the idea to life.

“I don't want to call it luck. I call it something divine put us together, “says Arguelles.

Just as each piece of art has meaning beyond its beauty, the Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center hopes the meaning beyond their existence is that Latinos can have a greater platform to tell their own stories.

“We see our culture sometimes being high jacked or appropriated, and I will leave the judgment to other people, but I want to take back these ideas. This is something that is ours, and we want to really highlight our culture, “says Arguelles.

The Chroma: Artists of Color in Oklahoma exhibit will be open to the public through March.

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