Art media

GoLocalProv | Newport Gallery opens the season with works by OZMA

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

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PHOTO: Raphael Medina

Rhode Island is full of up-and-coming young artists working on an exciting range of projects. For Kiara Costa, who creates art under the pseudonym OZMA, inspiration takes many forms and plays out in a variety of media. From April 1, Costa will be the subject of a season-opening pop-up display at Kings Lens and Friends at 7 Carroll Avenue in Newport. The two-week event showcasing Costa’s work is an ideal opportunity to explore the creations of one of the state’s emerging talents.

Costa’s creative nickname, OZMA, is taken from the name of a fairy queen in Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz series, which the artist read as a teenager. Costa adopted the name originally as a tag when experimenting with graffiti and now uses it in a wider range of applications, from artwork created on found objects to personalized clothing. Reflecting on the name, Costa considers her own multifaceted identity as an art maker and as a person. She says, “Ironically, by creating OZMA, I kind of became the character of Wizard, but behind that curtain, I’m a mother, sister, daughter, and friend. Behind the curtain are all the memories that I cherish.

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PHOTO: Kiara Costa

Titled “I loved the good times here,” Costa’s show at The Kings Lens and Friends includes work performed on surfaces such as post office boxes, bar receipts and even coasters.

Mostly self-taught, the artist’s style draws on a few mixed references to form a resolutely personal voice. Describing Frida Kahlo as an idol, Costa also highlights Andy Warhol’s work as a trainer of his own, saying, “His use of colors, pop culture references, even the personality he created for himself all resonate. As an adult, I try to become a sponge again, absorbing everything around me and recycling it into my works.

In much of Costa’s work, this push and pull is evident. There are allusions to the narrative elements that define much of Kahlo’s art, but there are also the bold Warholian traits. Markers are a staple of Costa’s output, as are the unusual two-dimensional mediums that host his creative energies.

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PHOTO: Kiara Costa

Costa has engaged in partnerships with venues ranging from the Dean Hotel, a chic downtown Providence spot, to Top Shelf Vintage Co., a bohemian retail space in Pawtucket. She is currently participating in an artist residency at the Providence outpost of the Cambridge Innovation Center and is also a member of the inaugural cohort of WaterFire’s Accelerate program for young artists. Her CV is that of an art creator turned towards success.

The exhibition at The Kings Lens and Friends, a space founded in 2016 to show the work of photographer Patrick Murphy and the artists around him, is the next step in Costa’s artistic journey. It will offer visual arts enthusiasts a first chance to discover and support a rising star on the local scene.

Costa’s goals for her art practice are ambitious and she describes them eloquently, saying, “As I continue with art, I also hope to continue to build a sense of community in Rhode Island and beyond. I hope that my art will continue to evolve, that I will be able to experiment with new materials and new mediums. More importantly, I hope to break down any barriers that might hold me back; a parent in his 20s, a person of color, with no BFA of selling work in high-end galleries. I want to be persistent, consistent, and develop my artistic talent in a way that allows me the freedom to be a full-time artist and create every day.

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PHOTO: Raphael Medina

Through his various OZMA branded projects, Costa aims to change preconceived notions of what is and what is not fine art. Considering what she wants viewers to take away from seeing her recent work, she says, “I want to not only reach a wider audience, but also show what I’m capable of. That a painting on a Chinese take-out menu can be a valuable art.

With a well-deserved solo feature in Newport, Costa will no doubt shake things up and win new fans among his fellow Rhode Islanders in the process. With his distinctive style and seemingly limitless creative energies, Costa’s passion for art is sure to leave a lasting impression in the state and beyond.

Kiara Costa’s work is on display at Kings Lens and Friends at 7 Carroll Avenue in Newport from April 1-15, 2022. The pop-up will begin with an opening on Friday April 1 from 5-9pm. Gallery hours are Sunday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.thekingslens.com.

For more from Costa, aka OZMA, follow his Instagram @ozmaart.

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