Spotlight on Rebekah Danae: Launching 'A Creative House' Residency Program for Tulsa Artists

ASLUT x A Creative House Artist Spotlight:
A Creative House: Residency 
Written: Monica McCafferty 
Photography: Iasiah G Pickens III

Artist and community organizer, Rebekah Danae has gone from applying for residencies to adopting her own. The program for Tulsa-based artists is in partnership with ‘Donkey Bridge’ - an Austin, TX-based artist residency that provides housing in Los Angeles, CA for artists to live and work intermittently throughout the year. 

In collaboration with Tulsa Creative Engine, this residency program is funded to provide each of eight Tulsa artists with housing, flights to and from LA, and a $2,000 stipend for living, expenses, and supplies.

The warehouse and loft space in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of east LA hosts a full-time local artist, a revolving group of Austin artists, and now eight Tulsa artists who will occupy the space for five weeks at a time through the end of 2024. 

“The idea is to go to LA, make experimental work, and have the resources to do so,” says Rebekah. “It's hard to carve out time and space for the art that you are dying to make.”

After each residency term, artists will leave their work in LA for an end-of-year show and then transport the work back to Tulsa for a sister show. “With a group show element, multidisciplinary nature, cross-community connections, and this idea of individual tulsa voice and collective tulsa voice that is influenced by a 2024 LA … you can see the magic of bringing everyone’s network together,” says Rebekah.

Historically, having structure in the art world to network within has been primarily a benefit of the path through graduate programs. After college, Rebekah was on track to take this route but chose to enter into community-focused work. Having chosen a non-traditional route, Rebekah says that residencies are a way to access things artists may need, through ‘a relationship with the global art ecosystem’. “I take the development of my practice very seriously and want to inspire the community to take their practices seriously too,” says Rebekah.

To develop her skills and practice, she describes the strategy as ‘building a self-guided grad school program.’ “I’ve identified the literature, mentors, and projects that I want to learn from. For me, that is painting in my studio, learning leatherwork on the outskirts of town, and working with an awesome interior designer. Naturally, I want to start cultivating that for the people around  me," she says.

The launch of A Creative House is an extension of Rebekah’s work in facilitating the development of herself and fellow artists. In the past, her research trips have allowed exposure to other cities' underground art scenes. “This is another step on the ladder," says Rebekah.

A firm believer in the uniqueness of Tulsa and Oklahoma Futurism, Rebekah says, “We are in a real cultural shifting moment in Oklahoma, in the middle of the country. The Tulsa voice is culturally relevant in America today, and artists have even more power to change culture than more direct avenues. You have to have cultural shifts before policy change happens; we have to go back a few steps further; art and music have the power to change that.”

Often wearing many hats, Rebekah takes her role as a leader in the community as seriously as her own art. “I think of it all as social sculpture—everything I do is creative: people, money, business, leather, paint—whatever I work with, I’m doing it all in a sculptural way.”

In January, Rebekah kicked off the A Creative House residency with a five-week stay of her own in the LA space. True to her vision, she was able to create some of the work she had wanted to make for a while. Inspired by truck and automobile imagery, along with the romance people often have with these machines, two paintings will be showcased at the end-of-year show.

Aside from dedicating herself to painting while in LA, Rebekah has come away with insights from the infrastructure of another city’s artists. “The opportunity to be around so many other creative industries—go to other artists' studios, see how they are operating, how they are archiving the work—gave me really good food for thought,” she says. Though the way that she may want to move/operate differently because of this is still coming. “A good community organizer doesn’t have an agenda; they are learning from all parts of the community they live in, identifying trends, and bolstering that work forward,” says Rebekah.

By the end of 2024, the experiences of these eight residents will have inevitably rippled through multiple communities and expanded many perspectives. The work of social sculpting will continue with even broader strokes and these intentional experiences will have pushed the culture forward.