Displaying items by tag: Art & Art History

University of Utah Art & Art History Professor Beth Krensky is at it again! During summer 2022, Krensky installed her upcoming exhibition “Between Spirit and Matter” at Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music which will open to the public on Sept. 21 and run through Dec. 10.

About the Exhibit

“Between Spirit and Matter” is an installation of performance pieces and ritual artifacts by the Utah-based artist Beth Krensky. As an acclaimed art educator and maker, Krensky considers herself to be “a gatherer of things—objects, words, spirit—and a connector of fragments, to make us whole.” In videography of her performance works, relics both real and imagined, and tenderly crafted textiles, the artist embraces liminality in an effort to sanctify bodies, space, and objects. The exhibition invites viewers to inhabit the space Krensky does herself: the in-between of matter and spirit, the profane and the sacred.

Glowing alabaster edifices, tinkling prayer shawls, and fluttering wings transform this historic building into hallowed ground. Rooted in the centuries-old Jewish traditions and influenced by more recent familial memory, Krensky’s materially compelling works are rich with meaning, welcoming participation and creating sanctuary.

If you’re in Connecticut…

Yale Institute of Sacred Music presents
Between Spirit and Matter: Works by Beth Krensky
Exhibition Dates:
September 21 - December 10, 2022
On display at Miller Hall 406 Prospect St. New Haven, Connecticut
Opening Event & Artist Panel
Wednesday, September 21 at 5:30 pm in Miller Hall
Beth Krensky, artist Maddie Blonquist Shrum, curator Margaret Olin, panelist Maeera Shreiber, panelist Ori Soltes, panelist

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Guest post by Professor V. Kim Martinez, Painting and Drawing, Department of Art & Art History

The University of Utah Department of Art & Art History and College of Mines and Earth Sciences joined in a collaborative process to create a community-based mural that combines reflections of both the hard sciences and human-nature of art.

The art-making approach we take in my Painting Special Topics- Murals course is multi-faceted with shared goals of the medium of murals and working together to form the message.

In the spring of 2018, I met College of Mines and Earth Sciences Dean Darryl Butt, a foremost scientist who studies materials process & performance in extreme conditions. I learned Dean Butt is an avid landscape painter and I invited him to join my class at the Taft Nicholson Center in Montana to Plein Air paint. Those in attendance were also honored to have him present his research on the Faiyum Mummies that encompasses analyzing paint pigments at the atomic level.  It was there that we began formulating ways to create a collaborative mural for the college at the Browning Building during this residency.

For this process, student artists and College of Mines and Earth Sciences, students, faculty and staff initially met and entered into dialogue to integrate cognitive and aesthetic experiences to aid in the mural’s development. This inclusive process resulted in imagery that combines Utah’s surrounding lands suggesting the research of atmospheric sciences, geology & geophysics, materials science & engineering and mining engineering.

Together, artists and scientists codified our ideas into seven murals displayed online to allow for a community vote to select the work they deemed to represent the college best. After a vote that included 113 participants from the College of Mines and Earth Sciences, “Walking in Beauty” was selected as the permanent mural. The image’s aesthetic language intends to wish peace, happiness, joy and confidence to whoever passes by it.

The coronavirus pandemic altered our traditional mural-making process. We developed a hybrid approach by combining the traditional painting process and technology. By printing the painting onto aluminum and leaving marks and imperfections of the hand, we brought an artistic touch to the earth sciences.

Course: Art #4180 Painting Special Topics-Murals
Professor V. Kim Martinez

Mikee-A-Lah Parrish
Victoria Dennis
Casidy Giles
Nelson Morales
William Oviatt
Haydar Rasoulpourarnaei
Connor Weight

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Research from two University of Utah College of Fine Arts undergraduate students was recently published in the university's 2020 Undergraduate Research Journal. The Undergraduate Research Journal collects and celebrates the contributions our undergraduate students from all over campus make to scholarship in their fields.

Sydney Porter Williams from the Department of Art & Art History focused her research on the outcomes and benefits of a collaborative mural project in Murray, while Amelie Bennett from the School of Dance examined the role of dance therapy in improving empathy and emotion recognition in non-clinical adults and children. 

We encourage you to learn more about these important student projects, as well as discover the work of many other undergraduate researchers from across campus disciplines! 


THE MURRAY MURALS PROJECT: CONNECTING LIVES ON CANVAS -- Sydney Porter Williams, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty Mentor: V. Kim Martinez

"The Murray Murals Project is a collaborative effort between University of Utah art students and thousands of Murray youth and community members. These groups worked collaboratively over the course of the fall 2018 semester to create community-engaged, portable murals for nine Murray elementary schools. These murals now hang in the halls of these schools, giving students ownership of their artwork and of their communities." 

Faculty Mentor: Kate Mattingly

"This work examines the commonly accepted notion of dance/movement therapy that mirroring another person’s movement will increase both participants’ levels of empathy. Mirroring involves a participant creating expressive dance; in a therapeutic setting, the therapist mirrors their movements to establish a relationship and gain insight into their physical and emotional experience."



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It is our great pleasure to present the 2020 Outstanding Seniors from the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. Each year,  our five academic units nominate an outstanding senior for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. These graduating students continue the CFA's tradition of sending strong creative leaders out into the art world. Congratulations, and our hats off to you! 

A Message from Liz Leckie, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs

Pisti Gamvroulas AAH

 Name: Pisti Gamvroulas
Majors and minors: Art with Graphic Design Emphasis, Minor in Arts & Technology
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Hard-working, and Compassionate
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Xi Zhang’s Drawing 1 Course. Xi is an exceptionally kind and genuine human who cares for each and every one of his students. He is consistently pushing them to do their best work, and experiment in their process. His instruction allowed me to explore my strengths and to understand my weaknesses and how I could improve myself. 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Learning about and working in the wood shop during my Foundations year and somehow leaving with all my limbs attached. 
One thing you learned at CFA: Community matters. It’s important to connect with others that can understand and support you through the challenges you face in a creative industry, and that can cheer you on through the successes you accomplish. Being connected with others helps you grow as a creative and find spectacular humans that you can form relationships with for years to come. 
What inspires you: Humanistic Design/Art/Research/Places that motivate people to connect with one another and/or share human experiences. Designers like Timothy Goodman, who’s work expresses his emotions and tells stories that everyone can relate to, is very inspiring. Spaces like the National Museum of American History that focus on visitor interaction offer multiple forms of insight into how we can create spaces that bring people together. Podcasts like “The Happiness Lab”, that offer scientific insight into how we can live more content lives and connect with others. 
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: During my time at the University of Utah, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with campus programs such as the Office of Student Success & Empowerment, The Muse Project, Bennion Center, and Intramural Sports. I created my own student organization called “U Got Game?” based on bringing students together to learn a variety of sports, and am the VP of the UofU AIGA, helping create a community amongst all design practices at the U. In the summer of 2019 I was fortunate enough to intern with the exhibition design team at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington D.C. I will be interning with an interdisciplinary architectural company, Sasaki, in Massachusetts this upcoming summer. 
One sentence that describes your work: Human centered design/art that uses humor, color, and/or bright subjects to create positive solutions for a variety of people. 


"Pisti’s participation in class, enthusiasm and diligent work habits set a wonderful example for her fellow classmates. She consistently goes above and beyond what is expected of her, both academically and beyond. It is not very often that we have the opportunity to engage with such a committed student. This same commitment to learn is also demonstrated in her pursuit in a career in graphic design. This led to landing a coveted, nationally competitive design internship at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. This demonstrates her high degree of self-motivation and professionalism. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Pisti is a pleasure to work with. She engages with her teachers and fellow students with a smile on her face. Even in  the midst of tackling a difficult design problem, Pisti enthusiastically takes on the challenge. Upon solicitation of faculty members for nominations for this award; we received multiple glowing reviews of Pisti. Her love for design is obvious and her positivity is contagious. In addition to her success in the Graphic Design Program and fulfilling the Interdisciplinary Capstone Project in Arts and Technology, she is highly involved in campus life. She is a MUSE scholar, serves as the AIGA (professional organization for design) student body president, and was the lead ambassador for the U of U’s  Undergraduate Studies Student Success and Empowerment Program. This are just a few of the many contributions she has made to the campus community." 

- Carol Sogard
Professor, Department of Art & Art History 

“Pisti is a kind, intelligent, passionate, and brave artist and designer. Pisti’s highly artistic achievements reflects these qualities. I do not doubt she will be a celebrated star in the design community.”
- Xi Zhang
Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History 


Cameron Mertz SoD

Name: Cameron Mertz
Majors and minors: Modern Dance major with a minor in Psychology
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
Three words that describe you: Compassionate, hard-working, resilient
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Junior year improv with Stephen Koester 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Performing “The Middle Way” choreographed by Molly Heller in the 2018 School of Dance Gala at Kingsbury Hall.
One thing you learned at CFA: I learned the importance of allowing myself to be vulnerable in my artmaking even when it’s uncomfortable and scary because, ultimately, that has led me to create work that is personally meaningful and memorable to me.
What inspires you: I’m inspired by things that I experience in my daily life, specifically interactions with people around me, whether intentional or not. I think it’s more fun to be inspired by the mundane than grandeur.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: 

  • 2017-2018 Before She Sleeps in the Sand Choreography by Pamela Gaber-Handman, Performed as part of Legacy Assembly/ Performed as part of American College Dance Association Northwest Conference, selected for Gala Performance/ Performed as part of Breaking Ground Dance & Film Festival/ Performed as part of Performing Dance Company
  • 2017-2018- Awarded the Departmental Scholarship from the Modern Program of the School of Dance at the University of Utah
  • 2018- The Middle Way Choreography by Molly Heller, Performed as part of School of Dance Gala Concert
  • 2018- The Wallflowers Choreography by Brooklyn Draper, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert/ Performed as part of 12 Minutes Max/ Performed as part of Mudson
  • 2019- A Collective Resilience Choreography by Daniel Do, Performed as part of Repertory Dance Theater’s Emerge
  • 2019- Surge Choreography by Anouk Van Dijk, Performed as part of The School of Dance Gala/ Performed as part of Salt Spring Concert2019- Gaga Summer Intensive (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • 2019- Parachute Princess Choreography by E’lise Jumes, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert2019- Becoming Choreography by Joanna Lees, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert
  • 2020- Grey Raven Choreography by Eric Handman, Performed as part of the School of Dance Gala

One sentence that describes your work: For me, I find it important that my work remains honest, explorative and evolving.  


“'WHO IS SHE?!' I remember asking when I first saw Cameron perform on stage at the MCD—she was a newly arrived freshman dancing in a piece by LA hiphop artist Jackie Lopez. Even then, a month into college, her maturity, clarity, fierceness, and stage presence was palpable. She shone on stage. And this star quality has grown exponentially while at the School of Dance. Cameron is a consummate dance artist--- a creative contributor who posseses an absolutely compelling stage presence, a deep thinker, and someone who shows grace and humanity in everything she does." 
- Satu Hummasti
Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor, School of Dance

"Cameron’s committed, vibrant energy draws people to her. She is incredibly hard working and a curious, questioning artist at heart. Cameron is an exceptionally invested artist, one with great integrity, who seeks new research opportunities and mentorship to broaden her dancing life. She not only inspires others with her expansiveness as a performer, but she also exudes humility and perseverance. Inside the classroom, onstage, and within a creative process, she has earned the deep respect of her peers and faculty."

"Faculty feel that Cameron has been, '…an integral part of my choreographic research, influencing the direction, intensity, and depth of the research itself,' and, 'She raises everyone’s game. Inspiring, indefatigable, tirelessly creative and physically powerful.' Her peers feel that she, '…is truly a poetic movement artist. She is incredibly insightful, filled with creative guttural decision-making abilities. Cameron has the ability to always include her unique voice, physical quirks, textures and tonalities in anything that she does. It is a superpower of hers, to always include herself in anything she does; transcending ideas beyond movement, making dance seem otherworldly at times.'" 
-Michael Wall
Modern Dance Program Head & Associate Professor, School of Dance


Katie Phillips FMAD

Name: Katie Rose Phillips
Majors and minors: Film and Media Arts Major, Production Emphasis
Hometown: Midland, Michigan
Three words that describe you: Creative, Confident, Candid
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino
Most memorable moment at CFA: When I was studying abroad in Italy one of the students, Brady Brown, had a scene in his film where he had to jump through a fence and every student on the trip came and helped film that one shot. It was hysterical.
One thing you learned at CFA: Always double check that the camera plate is secure on the tripod.
What inspires you: Telling stories that are important to me and having people connect with those stories.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: Film, Seeing Eye Guy, featured at the Block Festival. Film, Grieving A Broad, showcased in Italy and the United States. Forward for the Utah Howl Women’s Ice Hockey team.
One sentence that describes your work: Rediscovering yourself is the first step to overcoming loneliness.

“During her time in the Department of Film & Media Arts, Katie has proven to be a very valuable member of this community. In class, she is always engaged and her willingness to learn is contagious; her films have a maturity level that is unseen in filmmakers of her age; and she’s always advocating for female empowering stories that reflect the different facets of the female experience. She is a strong talented young filmmaker who uses cinema to provoke positive change.”
- Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino 
Assistant Professors, Department of Film & Media Arts

"Our Department is committed to empowering students to tell stories that matter to them. Katie has done just that. Her creativity, ambition, and perseverance have earned her the respect of her peers and instructors. We expect great things of her in the years ahead." 
- Andrew Patrick Nelson 
Chair, Department of Film & Media Arts 


Tony Elison SoM

Name: Tony Elison
Majors and minors: Honors BMus in Jazz Composition, minor in Computer Science
Hometown: American Fork, UT
Three words that describe you: open-minded, reflective, curious
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Jazz Composition and Arranging
Most memorable moment at CFA: premiering original works at senior recital
One thing you learned at CFA: how to network
What inspires you: real, sincere, hard-working people who love what they do
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus:

  • Learned how to learn
  • Developed a love for reading
  • Sharpened writing skills
  • Widened my musical palette
  • Established a reputation for professionalism in the SLC music community

One sentence that describes your work: It’s my hope that my work reflects authentic, musical expression, capable of moving and elevating the listener.

"I’ve known Tony as a work-study student who works at the front desk in the Music Office, and a scholarship recipient as a member of the Michie Jazz Quintet, which plays at many events on campus, including the Presidents Office. I’ve always been very impressed with his jazz piano playing and arranging. He's very unassuming, and I didn't know until recently of his impressive performance credits (including Carnegie Hall and Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center in New York!) or his minor in computer science. He is an Honors student with a GPA at the very top of his graduating class. Behind his unassuming manner there is a tremendously talented and intelligent jazz musician who has already reached some impressive milestones. He has a bright future ahead of him!" 
- Miguel Chuaqui
Director, School of Music 

"What makes Tony Elison a special student to me is his ability for synthesis. He can take inspiration from musical ideas, syntax, and traditions while filtering them through his own distinctive voice. I have been honored to help him achieve his goals and continue to expand his artistic horizons for the future."
- John Petrucelli
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, School of Music 

"Tony has the ideal demeanor for a working colleague--he is an amazing musician, always prepared, and a positive person to be around. He is already playing professionally in and around Utah."
- Donn Schaefer
Brass and Jazz Area Head & Professor of Trombone, School of Music 


Matthew Rudolph DoT

Name: Matthew Rudolph 
Majors and minors: Musical Theatre
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Passionate, Hard-working
Favorite CFA class or teacher: David Schmidt
Most memorable moment at CFA: Getting to perform with the cast of Bring it On! and represent the department of theatre at the opening of the Eccles theatre downtown.
One thing you learned at CFA: How incredible it is to be an artist. As artists, we have the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level and create change within them and in the world. We have the chance to entertain those around us and make people feel something.
What inspires you: Seeing the passion other CFA students put into their craft everyday and getting to work on something that I am so passionate about fuels me with excitement to work hard and give my everything.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: SAC Representative- President, Vice-President, class representative, FAF Grant Representative, Emerging Leadership intern, cast in 7 department of theatre musicals, member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
One sentence that describes your work: I am an artist and collaborator who is passionate about creating change and allowing people the opportunity to escape reality and be entertained.

"Matthew has proved to be an outstanding student and leader within the Department of Theatre. He serves as President for the department's Student Advisory Committee (SAC). He also serves as the student representative at the College Council meetings. Besides being an excellent representative for his fellow students and the department, he is a talented performer. He has been cast in a number of department productions including, Chess, Company, Dracula and Floyd Collins. On behalf of the department and myself, we wish him the best of luck." 
- Harris Smith
Chair, Department of Theatre

"Freshman Matt Rudolph peaked his head into a rehearsal of "BRING IT ON" in August of 2016 when I had just lost the entire Cheerleading squad who had agreed to do the show….I said, “Howdy, can you tumble?” He said “sure”  …..and that is the way it has been for the last 4 years….. Matt is forever willing to give anything asked of him his best shot. Always with a smile, Matt is one of a very few students who have been cast in just about every departmental show of his college career. BRAVO MATT!" 
-Denny Berry
Musical Theatre Program Head, Department of Theatre

"I am so happy that Matthew was chosen as the outstanding student for the Department of Theatre. I have had the privilege of being involved with Mathew from the time of his audition for the department until now at his graduation. I have been his Private Applied Voice teacher for the 4 years. Matthew has an incredible work ethic, a passion for his art and the talent to make it all work. He is also a generous leader amongst his peers. I am sure he will have a brilliant future. Break legs Matthew!!" 
-David Schmidt
Associate Professor, Department of Theatre


*Look out for our feature of Alicia Ross, Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher!  And please join us tomorrow when we will hear from our two student convocation speakers, Jacob Weitlauf and Sydney May, right here on the blog.* 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Edward Bateman 

This is a guest post by Edward Bateman, artist and Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Utah, and head of the Photography and Digital Imaging area.

Artists have always used the power of their work to rise the challenges of their times. Together with my Advanced Digital Imaging students, we doing something very different for the end of our semester… a creative response to our current pandemic situation. We are basing our group project on a work of classical Italian literature: "The Decameron" by Boccaccio that aptly reflects our circumstances: 

In Italy during the time of the Black Death (March 1348), a group of seven young women and three young men flee from plague-ridden Florence to shelter in a deserted villa in the countryside. To pass the evenings, each member of the group tells a story each night, resulting in ten nights of storytelling. Thus, by the end they have told 100 stories. Each of the ten characters is charged as King or Queen of the company for one of the ten days in turn. This charge extends to choosing the theme of the stories for that day.

We have been doing the same thing photographically – telling the stories of this time… and are creating a book to document what it is like to live in this pandemic crisis. Like the storytellers in "The Decameron," we are sharing our art. Twice a week we gather together on Zoom to look at our images, compare experiences, and get our next theme from the one designated as our leader for the next “day.”  

Their willingness to share their trials and also their optimism and creativity has been a genuine source of strength and hope for me at this time. Our book will go beyond this moment to show the complexities, feelings and responses that we as a group, sheltering from the plague, have experienced together.

For our new "Decameron," each student has given us a theme which will be a chapter in the book. Their choices have been remarkably challenging, and given us all much to consider as we go through this time of isolation. Out images have become a place to creatively embody our experiences.

  • Day 1 - At This Time
  • Day 2 - Collectively Disconnected
  • Day 3 - Routinely Interrupted
  • Day 4 - Photographs Not Seen
  • Day 5 - Silver Linings
  • Day 6 - Solace and Inspiration
  • Day 7 - Indoor-Outdoor
  • Day 8 - Collapsing
  • Day 9 - CHAOS! in the supermarket
  • Day 10 - Heroes 

We all have a need to share our stories and feel connected. Art is a way to create meaning, especially in times of uncertainty. Also, we are doing what photographers have always done – produce a lasting record documenting this moment in time. The eight of us (I am included at their invitation) have now completed our images – 80 of them! So along with a personal text from each, it is time to make our book.

I couldn’t be more proud of my students! Both in how they have faced the difficulties of these past weeks, but also in how they have creatively challenged themselves and produced art that far exceeded my expectations! These are my heroes: Will Betts, Sam Devine, Ethan Edwards, Brandi Gilbert, John Moffitt, Claire Palmer, and Heather Pierce. Their willingness to share their trials and also their optimism and creativity has been a genuine source of strength and hope for me at this time. Our book will go beyond this moment to show the complexities, feelings and responses that we as a group, sheltering from the plague, have experienced together.

The gallery below offers a sneak peek into the work of the Advanced Digital Imaging class!
Take a look. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Since last week's announcement that classes at the University of Utah would be conducted online for the remainder of the semester, many College of Fine Arts students have risen to the challenge with positivity, compassion and drive. Susannah Mecham, a second-year student in the Department of Art & Art History majoring in painting and drawing with a minor in sculpture, decided to start a unique Instagram account where her fellow U students could connect around their creative work.

To foster new connections as well as provide support in an unsteady situation, Mecham established @coronaartcollective where she encourages University of Utah fine arts students to connect and share what they are creating. 

Here's what she had to say about it: 

"Over the course of the last week I was camping out of range of cell service with a group of fellow University of Utah students. It was a very surreal experience to drive home with our phones exploding as we passed signs flashing pandemic hotlines on the freeway, with the person next to me reading through updates from family, friends, government and the university. Everything seemed like it was happening all at once -- because it was for us. I was deeply saddened that I would miss creative opportunities and time within a community that I love.  

"I fully intend to have a prosperous educational experience despite the current COVID-19 situation. I also know that by staying connected to the U I will continue to have the support of those colleagues and educators who have supported my education and the education of so many others. The U as a community has many tools for us to utilize right now, and with a little creativity and togetherness (from a 6 foot safe distance) everyone can move forward."

"I received an email from my sculpture professor, Kelsey Harrison, who suggested that we find ways to connect with other art students to continue critiquing and discussing work. Kelsey also suggested that we continue to be informed about what other people were making and what drives their art practices while our own creative practices as students are being challenged and imposed upon by social distancing and quarantines. IMG 75BCA33FC5F0 1

"After sharing some of my feelings about the situation with my mom, she suggested that I get online and start making things happen! I decided Instagram would be a good platform as it is used widely by creative communities. Since then I have enjoyed watching the creative community respond to the COVID-19 situation by continuing to make art, music, and more. In a time where everything is put on hold and becoming more stagnant, creativity is beginning to flourish and it is very exciting. 

Staying connected to the University of Utah is important to me during this time because I fully intend to have a prosperous educational experience despite the current COVID-19 situation. I also know that by staying connected to the U I will continue to have the support of those colleagues and educators who have supported my education and the education of so many others. The U as a community has many tools for us to utilize right now, and with a little creativity and togetherness (from a 6 foot safe distance) everyone can move forward." 

Follow @coronaartcollective on Instgram to see student work and share your own! 

Do you have a resource you'd like to share with fellow students? Tag us on Instagram at @uofufinearts.

Stay well and stay connected. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Seven students from the College of Fine Arts were recently selected as Spring 2020 scholars in the University of Utah's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

UROP gives undergraduate students and faculty mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. The program provides a stipend and educational programming for students who assist with a faculty member’s research or creative project or who carry out a project of their own under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may apply for UROP any semester and may be eligible for a one-semester renewal. UROP awardees are hired as temporary, part-time UROP Participants by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are paid $1,200 for 120 hours of research or creative work during the semester.

Here are CFA's Spring 2020 UROP scholars and a glimpse at what each of them are working on:

Bethany Dahlstrom, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Carol Sogard

Bethany is researching notable alumni that have graduated from the Graphic Design program at the University of Utah. She is in the process of designing a promotional Graphic Design Alumni book that teaches students in the program, future students and community members about the history and legacy of the Graphic Design Program, while also recognizing these notable alumni and the impacts they have made on the profession. She is also researching innovative ways to utilize Instagram as a design tool to share the content developed in the book.

Ethan Edwards, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Laurel Caryn

The title of Ethan’s UROP proposal is “Art’s Role in a Contemporary, Saturated Market, and a Question into the Validity of Societies Value of the Market”.  Ethan will be  questioning the validity of the gallery space as a place for art, by finding alternative spaces, trying not only to define art itself, but define its purpose and final destination.

Kaitlyn Redd, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty mentor: Justin Diggle

Katie is utilising Laser Engraver and CNC machines to explore new approaches to printmaking. She will initially be creating test images to explore the technical possibilities of the machinery before creating specific images. With the laser engraver for example, she will first screenprint multiple layers of alternating colour before engraving back into the print with particular imagery. The engraving of the image will reveal layers of colour.

Nicole Kallsen, School of Dance 

Faculty mentor: Kate Mattingly

Nicole's project is called "Seeking Common Ground: A case study of ballet's cultural values in Salt Lake City." She is researching perceptions of ballet in Salt Lake City by analyzing three organizations: Ballet West, Ballet West Academy, and the University of Utah Ballet Program. For each organization, Nicole will assess their social and financial support with special attention to the demographics of people who participate in the production and presentation of performances.

Jacob Young, School of Music

Faculty mentor: Jared Rawlings

Jacob is exploring peer group effects of relational victimization and empowerment among high school instrumental music students. He utilized social network analysis and found that participation in a school-based marching band significantly impacts feelings of empowerment reducing self-reported relational victimization, even after controlling for gender, caring behaviors, and positive attitudes toward bullying.

Kimberly Brown, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Rob Scott Smith

In Kimberly's own words: "I am on a quest to create a piece of theatre that examines and exposes our society's relationship with mental health, more specifically to personal identities in our youth in relation to the older generations and the world around us. I want to study mental health, gender, and social issues through the lenses of famous literary figures from Shakespeare’s works. This play will use iconic characters and humorous circumstances to expose and explore deeper issues that some might not be able to do with research papers, classes, and studies."

Courtney Cohen, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Andra Harbold  

Courtney is conducting interviews and pursuing qualitative research into three thematic threads of "Spitfire Grill:" towns with economies whose primary livelihoods are failing, Vietnam veterans returning home after the war, and sexual assault survivors.

Click here for more information on upcoming UROP applications! The next deadline is Friday, March 20th for students interested in working during Summer 2020. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

MAGNIFYING is a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff to help you learn more about the remarkable individuals within our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts. 

Michael Hirshon is a freelance illustrator and assistant professor of Illustration in the Department of Art & Art History. He holds a BFA in Visual Communication and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has spent the past decade working with a wide array of clients including The New York Times, HarperCollins Publishers, Amazon, The Washington PostForbes, and American Express. His work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Spectrum, CMYK, and 3x3.

Michael is enthusiastic about illustration and enjoys seeking out unusual avenues for visual storytelling. He has collaborated on packaging for a dog toy company, a taco truck chef’s cookbook, the side of a city bus, a dating coach’s graphic memoir, a US Senate campaign, and the walls of a daycare in Pakistan.hirshon headshot se

What do you consider your first big break in illustration?

My big break is kind of the equivalent of winning the illustration lottery. At the end of my senior year of college, I was very fortunately offered a huge project to illustrate a localized “We Accept American Express” sticker for the city of St. Louis. I’d put up a portfolio website, not expecting any kind of response until well after graduation...and now here I was, negotiating contracts and asking my professors about “kill fees” and “usage rights.” Legal jargon aside, it was a very positive experience and the perfect introduction to the process of collaborating with an art director. Best of all, the fee allowed me to support myself long enough to build a viable freelance business.

What is/was the process of building a network of freelance clients?

As an illustrator, I’m always trying to find the best ways to connect with the people who will actually commission work from me. In most cases, these people are art directors: an elusive group of designers who are very busy, and constantly being bombarded with self-promotional materials from thousands of incredibly talented illustrators. My strategy is to get these art directors to look at my website by sending them emails or postcards with work that I think will interest them. I’ve sent out thousands of postcards and tens of thousands of emails, and the 1-2% of people who have actually responded have become my client base. It’s an exhausting numbers game, for sure. But the most important part of building my network was making an effort to be flexible, versatile, and punctual. When it comes down to it, art directors like to work with people who are easy to work with, and if you can prove to be a consistent and productive collaborative partner, they will come back for more illustrations. Repeat clients now provide the majority of my work, and that allows me to focus more on drawing and less on sales.

What habits or rituals are essential to the success of your creative practice? 

While it’s not really a habit or a ritual, my sketchbook is a foundation of my practice that touches every part of what I do. It’s where I process my ideas and experiences, for both client and personal work. When I flip through my old sketchbooks, I’m looking at a visual record of my creative development — a map of all the trends and habits in my work. Right now I’m working on a book where the art directors want me to treat each illustration as one of my sketchbook drawings, which has proven to be trickier than I’d thought. While it’s easy to make it stylistically similar, there’s no replacement for the lack of constraint or stakes that comes from actually working in a sketchbook. It’s important to have a place to make mistakes and try out awful ideas. 

What will students in your illustration emphasis classes be focusing on?

The illustration emphasis is designed to expose students to a broad range of everything that illustration can be: books, editorial, advertisements, concept art, products, fashion, surfaces — you name it. My goal is that students come out of the program thinking like illustrators, confident in using their unique voices to tell any kind of story. There will be a lot of freedom for students both to explore, and to focus on specific interests by their final year. Students will be able to pursue more traditional pathways of illustration (magazine illustration, book covers, etc) or work with me to create their own path. 

Can you tell us about one or two of your most unusual projects and how your approach may have differed because of the topic or format?

I worked on a series of illustrations for a now-defunct startup aimed at replacing members of Congress with a voting app (I’m guessing my art wasn’t the reason why the startup failed, but that’s an obviously biased opinion). They wanted illustrations that could be posted on social media: things like “I voted YES on Prop #999.” The tricky part is that they only wanted to pay for one illustration per issue, so I was designing images that could be interpreted as a YES or a NO depending on the accompanying text. It made for a really interesting challenge where I was analyzing peoples’ biases and viewpoints and creating images with enough ambiguity to be seen either way. For example: an image of a crowd of smiling citizens holding assault rifles, children included. Anti-gun people would see this image and focus on the ridiculousness of a child holding an assault rifle. Pro-gun people would see the image and focus on the happy expression of the people and see an ideal vision of society. The text does the heavy lifting. The assignment was an eye-opener for me, and changed my approach to future assignments. Interpretation is a tricky thing to navigate, but with enough knowledge of your audience, you can guide people’s understanding of your story.

Follow Michael's work on Instagram at @michaelhirshon. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Looking for beautiful handmade gifts this holiday season? Look no further.

The Department of Art & Art History at the University of Utah hosts its Holiday Art Sale next week in the Gittins Gallery. From December 3 - 5, the sale will feature fine art prints, photographs & postcards, photo zines & buttons, paintings, drawings, ceramics and more, all made by student artists.

Students Natalie Cheatham (studying marketing & sculpture) and Nate Francis (studying photography & sculpture) are hard at work with their fellow Sculpture Club members in preparation for the sale. Particularly inspired by the prospects of an exciting year together, Sculpture Club recently received a FAF grant from the College of Fine Arts to travel to New York City this year to visit artist studios! With the guidance of faculty mentor Assistant Professor Kelsey Harrison, they decided as a club to craft handmade wooden spoons, jewelry, and holiday ornaments for this year's holiday sale.

Beyond giving students experience in pricing and marketing their art to the public, this is also a valuable opportunity to hone new skills and collaborate with students of other disciplines.

“The sale is fun because we are taking skills we’ve learned in class and making something we can sell,” Cheatham explained. “We make lots of different things -- and it’s less precious than most of our processes. We have also worked with Photo Club, Clay Club ... it gives us a chance to teach other students how to use new equipment.” IMG 6817

To create their desired sheens and textures for jewelry, they have worked on annealing, enameling and heat bending. To make plexiglass ornaments, they have learned how to master a laser cutter to transfer designs crafted in Adobe Illustrator.  They have worked with specialized processes to make their handmade spoons both beautiful and durable.

“Some of the spoons are formed from one piece of wood, others are laminated, using several different types.” Nate Francis explained. “ We cut the shape with a band saw, then use sanding tools and angle grinders to carve out the center. Once it is done, we finish it with mineral oil.” In one spoon Francis made, the different colors of come through in clear layers. “This one uses maple, cherry, and oak.”

These gifts made by Sculpture Club are just some of the unique items you'll find at the Holiday Art Sale, and finishing your shopping is not the only upside: proceeds from the sale will directly support student clubs (like Sculpture Club!), travel to conferences, and workshops with visiting artists. 

A win-win for all.

We’ll see you there!
Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 10 - 7:30
Wednesday, Dec. 4 from 10 - 6
Thursday Dec. 5 from 10 - 6
Note: Cash and check are preferred but some areas will accept credit/debit cards.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Emeri Fetzer

Artist Jim Michie may have 65-70 original paintings in his collection, but he has 8,000 more in his imagination, waiting to be brought to fruition.

“The world is so full of beauty,” Michie said. From colorful landscapes and faces of beloved family members, to a particularly striking Australian shepherd catching the light just right, the ordinary images filling Michie’s days are what he finds most extraordinary, and is compelled to capture on canvas.

Next week in the Alvin Gittins Gallery, the Department of Art & Art History  will open an exhibit of over 30 Michie originals. Paintings, sketches, and watercolors that typically hang in the homes of his children and grandchildren will be on display to showcase a body of work in development since 1982.

A graduate of Yale University in Economics and Stanford Business School, Michie cultivated a creative practice as a relaxing avocation alongside a bustling career in the real estate business.
Jim Photo
“I had five kids, a church calling, and of course business was the main thing,” Michie explained. “But when I could, I would doodle, draw or do a painting.” 

In the moments he sets aside to paint, Michie experiences not only a sense of calm, but also the extreme focus that artists for ages have chased and harnessed: the “zone,” the creative flow, that mysterious state of full presence of mind, free from distraction.

“You’re painting along and you just don’t want to quit, because it’s like a puzzle you are putting together. Pretty soon it’s 2 AM and you realize you have a business meeting in 6 hours” Michie said.

Entirely self-taught through instructional books drawing and painting, Michie has honed his artistic skill through consistent practice and detailed observation of other visual artists he admires. Specifically, in portraits, he is driven to find accuracy in color, shapes and line. 

“If it doesn’t look like the subject, it just isn’t cutting it,” he confessed. “You’ve got to get the cheek right, you’ve got to get the eye color right…I’ve learned to do the eyes last because they can be so tricky.”

And to the question of when a work is complete, he simply said, “you have to quit when you know there are some mistakes in there, and when you are tired of it for sure.”

Because art has meant so much to Jim personally, he is inspired to support those with a similar devotion. In addition to his continuous philanthropic efforts in the School of Music, Michie has recently established an endowed scholarship in the Department of Art & Art History for emerging practitioners. “It excites me that there are artists there that may need a boost. I had financial help in college and very much appreciated it. I am devoted to the arts. It’s fun to know and to see students go! They are so passionate about what they do. We need that in our culture.” 

And “see students go” Jim certainly will. Being a life-long real estate developer, Michie understands the value of creating spaces for impactful work and the longevity of sustaining large projects. The James R. and Nanette S. Michie Foundation has pledged financial support for a new named reception space in the continuing capital campaign efforts of the College of Fine Arts.

Congratulations to Eva Rauf and Diego Torres, 2019 recipients of the James R. and Nanette S. Michie Endowed Scholarship in Art & Art History!

Come and visit the Jim Michie Exhibition

November 14 – 22, 2019
Alvin Gittins Gallery  

Published in Finer Points Blog
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