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OU Professors Create Art Installation To Honor Oklahomans Who Have Died From COVID-19

Jamie Bates Slone, an assistant professor of ceramics at the University of Oklahoma, makes rose rocks out of red clay at OU’s John Frank Ceramics Studio.
Jamie Bates Slone
Jamie Bates Slone, an assistant professor of ceramics at the University of Oklahoma, makes rose rocks out of red clay at OU’s John Frank Ceramics Studio. ";

Two University of Oklahoma professors received a grant to create an art installation in honor of the over 8,000 Oklahomans who have died from COVID-19. 

Rose rocks will be made with red clay to represent each Oklahoman who has died from COVID-19 and will be assembled to form a chart depicting the change in mortality rates in the state throughout the pandemic. 

Aparna Nair, an assistant professor of the history of science at OU, said the idea for the project came from the desire to use art to make sense of this historic moment and to process trauma related to the pandemic. 

“This is a really important demographic, social and cultural moment, and I think it deserves to be commemorated, not brushed aside in our desire for normalcy as we all get vaccinated,” Nair said. “People are still dying so we should remember that.” 

A rose rock made out of red clay.
Credit Jamie Bates Slone
A rose rock made out of red clay.

Jamie Bates Slone, an assistant professor of ceramics at OU, said it has been a cathartic experience for students, faculty and staff to make the rose rocks out of clay. 

“I get the opportunity to read some of the messages students are writing on these rocks,” Bates Slone said. “It's kind of heartbreaking. Some are empowering, some are angry. And I think that's the healing part of this whole project.”

The art installation is expected to be completed by spring 2022 with the goal of being on permanent display at the university. 

For more information on how to get involved in the project, email aparna.nair@ou.edu or jamiebatesslone@ou.edu

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Katelyn discovered her love for radio as a student employee at KGOU, graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and then working as a reporter and producer in 2021-22. Katelyn has completed internships at SiriusXM in New York City and at local news organizations such as The Journal Record and The Poteau Daily News. Katelyn served as president of the OU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists from 2017 to 2020. She grew up in Midland, Texas.
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