Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

- Cesar A. Cruz

His love for filmmaking began when he was just a kid.

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Soren Tempest, 19, is about to screen four short films at ART 321. It's one of the first times the gallery has held screenings of video projects, but it's certainly not the first time its disrupted the status quo of what people believe is "art."

And make no mistake about it - what Soren Tempest creates is art.

And it's an artform that he discovered at a time when other kids his age were playing video games.

"I initially started getting interested in film when I was a little kid," Tempest told K2 Radio News at ART 321 during the August Casper Art Walk. "I first really began to love animation in middle school. I would spend hours on YouTube just finding peoples' student films and things like that."

And it wasn't just YouTube that served to inspire Tempest's heart and pique his curiosity; it was his dad as well.

"My father, Charles Conkin, was also a filmmaker," Tempest said. "He produced two feature films and always had his equipment out and when you're a little kid, you look up to the adults in your life. And I was always like, 'What is he doing? Why does he have that stuff?'

Tempest found out what he was doing and was immediately enchanted.

"I'm just glad that what he's been doing since he was literally two years old has come to fruition," Tempest's mom, Lindsey stated. "You know, you always ask a 6 or 8 or 10-year old, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' and he never said anything other than an artist. This child has been an artist since he came out of the womb."

Tempest said that, like many Casper students with an interest in film, he began taking classes from Lance Madzey at Natrona County High School.

"I took those classes all the way through my four years of high school and I fell in love with film," Tempest beamed. "I fell in love with artistic expression and I really started to gain my own voice. Then I started to expand more, I started to research more, and I got really into old films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and things like that. And then I stumbled into stuff like German expressionism and a lot of old Italian films and things like that. And eventually I kind of started to find my own way to modernize the feeling of using film to create these really intense emotions, both incredibly positive and negative. And it kind of led me to where I am."

And where he is, currently, at Art 321, screening his films for an exhibition and offering a Q&A. He's showcasing 4 short films, all of which showcase his talent, his ambition and maybe, just maybe, the way he sees the world.

“I’m not only going to be talking about where the inspiration of my work comes from but also my philosophy behind filmmaking,” Tempest told Oil City News. “It’ll be very audience-led. So if you’re interested in hearing more about my thoughts about the film industry or how to properly make a movie, come stop by and ask those kind of questions. I will answer literally anything film-related that you have to ask.”

His short films, 'Grendels Tooth,' 'The Connection,' 'Split Idol,' and 'Me and the Devil' are being screened at 8:00 p.m. on Friday night at Art 321, but they can also be seen on his YouTube page.

Each short film demonstrate an innate ability to capture the viewer's eye, with camera angles, colors, set design and more.

"I have a strong desire for very striking camera angles," Tempest said. "I like things to feel distorted. I'm a big fan of graphic novels and comic books and things like that. And I have a philosophy in filmmaking that's like, if I wanted to go and see real life as it is, I'd just go out and look at the real world. If I want to make a movie and I want to make art, why would I just put my boring, everyday real life into that? No, we're gonna romanticize it. We're gonna make it look different and weird and something that you don't get to see in the everyday world. That's the advantage of filmmaking - it's being able to romanticize the every day to the point that it's no longer every day."

And that's kind of how Tempest lives his life. Clad in an outfit that some would say is a bit...outrageous...really, it's just another way to express himself. Anything can be art, if you treat it as such, and that goes for films, paintings, words, and even the way one dresses.

"Why make art that you've seen a hundred times, that make you feel comfortable?" he asked. "My films are designed to make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, in a safe space. I feel like that's what art is designed to do. To [paraphrase] a quote, 'Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturb.'"

And that's exactly what Tempest's films do, for better or worse. And ART 321 is the place that afforded him the opportunity to do it.

"When I was a little kid, there weren't places like this," Tempest said. "We had the Nicolaysen and that was it. So being able to see a place that's not only just an alternative art exhibit to the Nic, but a place that's founded by our community?...like, all of the art in [Art 321] was made by just everyday people; not big name artists, not people who have already made it, but people who just want to make art and let other people look at it. So being able to have something so community-centered and so actively uplifting to people of color, and queer people and all types of people from all different walks of life - it's incredible to our community."

Equally incredible to the community of Casper are people like Soren Tempest. Casper needs young, driven, creative, inspired (and inspiring!) people to continue to shape the town into what it could be. It's got the potential. All it needs is a little bit of love, a little bit of pushing, a little bit of grace...

...and a little bit of art.

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