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Visual artists Robert Peterson and Karam bring exhibits to JRB Art at the Elms



Meshing a variety of mediums, JRB Art at the Elms joins artists Robert Peterson and Karam in conversation, bringing together their unique styles, personal histories and geographical backgrounds in its gallery.

The Paseo Arts District gallery, 2810 N. Walker Ave., combines pop realism portraits by Peterson and When Less Becomes More by impressionist artist Karam through Nov. 27.

“I think art is a way in which I can portray the world inside of my mind to the outside world,” Karam said. “Creating art is an unconscious process where intuition leads the tip of the artist’s hand to convey their deepest emotions onto the canvas.”

From Seoul, Korea, Karam Cheong (who professionally goes by her first name only) said she allows intuition to guide her art and life path.

She received a BFA in communication design from Parsons School of Design.

Soon after graduating, however, she changed her focus from graphic design to painting.

The shift resulted in impressionistic drawings and paintings characterized by layered colors and repetitious movements.

JRB’s exhibition of Karam’s work displays her ability to build upon and alter her techniques.

“One day, I became unable to draw anything that I had been drawing for the past 10 years,” Karam told Oklahoma Gazette. “From there on, I painted almost absentmindedly, without form. I realized art is not the act of drawing what can be seen in the world, but what does not exist in the world.”

Each canvas presents an opportunity for catharsis and discovery.

Karam said a spiritual pathos underlies her process.

“A ritual in Buddhism requires one to continuously bow 3000 times wholeheartedly. Through this repetition, one’s spirit is purified of all of the chaos within the mind,” Karam said. “Many emotions seep out of my body and onto the canvas. In the work process, my mind gradually empties these emotions while the canvas becomes satiated with them.”

Worldly figures

Peterson said art has also served a therapeutic purpose in his life.

The Lawton-based pop realism artist said he first painted to establish a small legacy for his family.

“I decided to try my hand at painting in 2012 after finding out that I was going to have hip replacement surgery,” Peterson said. “The thought of being put to sleep scared me a little, and I wanted to be sure to leave something for my kids if, for some reason, I didn’t wake up from surgery.”

Peterson prevailed and realized his passions resided in intimate portraits of figures that inspire and emote.

Taking inspiration from late artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, the artist said his figures come to fruition naturally.

“Painting for me is a peaceful conversation between the canvas and my brush that I get to watch,” Peterson said. “Sometimes I’ll dream of what I’m going to paint, or an idea will just pop into my head at random times throughout the day. I am also inspired for new pieces while painting one thing, which will lead to another.”

A chain effect also occurred for the artist in renowned recognition.

Peterson’s larger-than-life portraits have drawn attention from celebrities as well as Oklahoma audiences.

“Since [my] third painting, I’ve had a pretty good response from people from all over the world,” he said. “About a month ago, I was blessed with an opportunity to hand-deliver one of my paintings to one of my idols, Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs. I was so nervous I forgot to pack socks for the trip.”

The most humanistic aspects of life drive Peterson’s approach to art, which is made evident in his careful attention to personal details.

For his JRB exhibition, the artist debuted new subjects and techniques.

“I started creating this body of work about three weeks ago,” he said. “For the first time, I am doing pairs of paintings, grouping musicians next to visual artists.”

JRB’s featured artists represent a wide geographical and theoretical spectrum.

Karam started in Seoul and New York City, and Peterson has shown works all over the country.

However, in the middle of it all, Oklahoma City is the breeding ground for both artists’ innovations.

Visit for more information.

Print headline: Creative therapy, JRB Art at The Elms’ November artists infuse their paintings with emotion. 

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