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Merging culture with creativity: Skiatook art curator expands reach, inspires others through her craft

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Lauren McKuin’s frequent 40-mile trek between two jobs is often accompanied by bouts of creative inspiration.

Her roles as an art teacher at Montessori Academy of Owasso and a curator at the Skiatook Arts Center give her a unique opportunity to influence a wide audience throughout her craft.

“I’m reaching two different communities … that’s my goal,” McKuin said. “It makes me really happy, actually.”

The longtime Skiatook resident started teaching in Owasso in November 2021, and then took up curating in her hometown in May. Her passion for the arts has since led her to provide a platform for others, especially local youth, to showcase their talents.

“It’s been amazing,” McKuin said of Montessori Academy. “I’ve been blown away (by) some of the kids at the school. To be able to … give them that outlet to let that creativity grow has been pretty rad.”

Her enthusiasm in the classroom soon carried into the community through her efforts at the Skiatook Arts Center.

The facility, located at 705 W. Rogers Blvd., has served as a downtown staple since opening in 2017, and McKuin said she wanted to continue to “bring culture within Skiatook … and to have a place where creatives can come and broaden their views.

“We’re starting to rebuild, rebrand, network with outside artists,” she added. “I wanted to just bring diversity within the city.”

McKuin oversees about 250 art pieces on display and another 200 in the site’s archive. The gallery features everything from vintage and abstract art to western and contemporary pieces, all portrayed through oils, acrylics, watercolors and other mixed media.

One way McKuin is stirring creativity in the community is by hosting an opening night the first Saturday of every month, in which new artists of all ages, including some of her Owasso students, can showcase their works.

“This space is going to rotate out every 30 days,” she said. “There’ll be light refreshments, wine … so people can actually come; they can meet the artists.”

Katrinka Booth, for example, is a contemporary textile artist from Tulsa who will feature two of her recent quilting works — “Hawk’s Eye” and “Summer Solstice” — at the Skiatook Art Center’s Aug. 6 show.

“I’m beyond excited, and very honored and thrilled, to be bringing something more with textile art than what is traditionally presented,” Booth said. “I want to take it off the bed and put it on the walls.”

In addition to the monthly show, McKuin said she plans to host an artist co-op to expand the creativity and collaboration of locals looking for a more centralized group to share their talents.

When asked what art means to her, McKuin replied, it is “an outlet; it’s expression … it is a way of life.”

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