State of love
TulsaPeople Contributing Photographer Evan Taylor is spreading positivity about Oklahoma, one hug at a time.
Photographer Evan Taylor shows Oklahoma how it’s done. His latest project, Huglahoma, encourages residents to show the state some love by giving it a hug. Taylor photographs the hugs and posts them to Facebook.
Jessie Rose Taylor
What’s blue and wooden and signed all over? It’s Evan Taylor’s Huglahoma.
Best known for his “Death of a Witch” series, the Tulsa photographer has begun a new photo project by creating a hand-held Oklahoma from particleboard.
How to Huglahoma? Grab the mini-panhandled cutout, say cheese, sign it and tell Taylor why you love our squeezable state. Your photo is then posted on Facebook sharing why you Huglahoma.
Taylor says he began Huglahoma to do something positive. A dose of depressing news stories made him ask, “Why all the negativity? If everybody would just shut up for minute and hug each other, maybe that could bring about some positive change.”
A self-admitted hugger, Taylor says he reflected on the nature of the hug — quick, yet intimate, a producer of warm fuzzies. He then thought of a way to connect the words “hug” and “Oklahoma.” Huglahoma was, Taylor says, “funny to say and funny to describe and just made people smile.”
Taylor is a member of Fab Lab Tulsa — Tulsa’s community center for innovation, entrepreneurship and technological education — and used the facility to create the Okie board, which he drew freehand and doused in state flag blue. Within one week, the Huglahoma Facebook page Taylor had created hit more than 300 “likes,” and it’s growing daily.
“I was — and still am — in shock,” Taylor says of the immediate notoriety. “As soon as I posted the first photo of myself, it exploded.”
Within four weeks, he shot and edited more than 200 Huglahoma photos and posted them on Facebook. So far, he has filled two wooden states with signatures, and a third is painted and ready to go.
Huglahoma subject Rhonda Roush, who also is an artist and one of eight comissioners of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department under Gov. Mary Fallin, is one of many fans of the project.
“It makes me smile!” Roush says. “It’s all about loving on this amazing state. Evan’s enthusiasm for focusing on good things is contagious.”
To date, the project has been on Taylor’s dime. A lot of work goes into shooting, organizing, processing and posting the images, he says. To continue funding Huglahoma, he is considering creating and selling T-shirts, posters and stickers, as well as accepting “live donations” while he’s out shooting.
“I am hoping to raise some funds so I can take a week or two and drive all over the state just taking photos,” Taylor says. “There are 77 counties in Oklahoma. How amazing would it be to visit them all and photograph people in their hometowns?
“Oklahoma has so much character and so much love to show; I just have to figure out a way to make that happen.”
Taylor is planning an Oklahoma City trip soon and hopes to get Gov. Fallin Huglahomaing. He also says he would like to get participation from some famous Oklahoma performers, such as Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood, as well as writers Michael Wallis and Lane Smith.
“If anyone gets anything out of this series, I want a smile, a sense of pride and maybe just a little positivity that can be passed on to the next person,” Taylor says.
“Also, a hug would be nice.”
See the many faces of Huglahoma at www.facebook.com/huglahoma.