Displaying items by tag: Arts Research

Associate Professor Joselli Deans (Dance) was recognized by the Black Cultural Center with the prestigious Malcolm X Award of Social Justice. This award is earned by individuals who have fought for justice in terms of the distribution of equal access, opportunities, and privileges within our campus and the greater community and whose body of academic work (e.g., articles, books, creative works) and life promote or exemplify the area of social justice in modern life.

Published in Arts Research
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Pablo Cruz-Ayala, undergraduate student in the Department of Art & Art History, has been awarded the University of Utah's Charles H. Monson Essay Prize by the Office of Undergraduate Research. 

 The Charles H. Monson Essay Prize honors Charles H. Monson Jr., a distinguished member of the University Philosophy Department from 1958 to 1974. Professor Monson earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Utah and received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. During his years at the University, he served as chair of the Philosophy Department and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. He received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1970. In his honor, an annual prize is awarded to an undergraduate who writes an outstanding paper on a subject having to do with social change. 

Cruz-Ayala's study, "Non-Objective and Subject Matter Dependent Visual Stimulus in Artwork: Investigating Accessible Art Therapies for Vulnerable Populations," investigates the impact of art-based interventions on heart rate variability (HRV) and emotional regulation among undocumented immigrant populations. Utilizing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, objective and non-objective artworks were presented in a public gallery setting. Pulse oximetry wearable devices were employed for HRV analysis. Results show a statistically significant improvement in HRV among participants exposed to immigrant subject matter-based artwork, suggesting the potential of art-based therapies for emotional regulation. Despite limitations in sample size and ethnic diversity, these findings contribute to the literature on art therapy. Cruz-Ayala was mentored by Professor John Erickson.

Published in Finer Points Blog

 Eight College of Fine Arts students presented research at the Office of Undergraduate Research Symposium Spring 2024. Every semester, the Office of Undergraduate Research hosts the Undergraduate Research Symposia (URS).  URS provides an opportunity for University of Utah students to present their work in a scholarly setting to students, faculty, and other members of the U community. Undergraduate students from all disciplines at the University of Utah are invited to present their research and creative work.

Mickayla Koday

Mickayla Koday*
Department of Art & Art History 
"SYZYGY: An Eclipse of the Self"
 Research Mentor: Maureen O’Hara Ure 

*Koday was also Selected for the Jury Prize for Best Visual Narrative Spring Symposium Poster out of 65 posters. The poster prize committee included Associate Dean Annie Isabel Fukushima (Undergraduate Studies and Office of Undergraduate Research), Associate Dean Joel Thornton (Marriott Library), Creativity & Innovation Services Head Greg Hatch (Marriott Library), Associate Librarian Shane Wallace (Marriott Library), Program Manager Shelly Parker (Office of Undergraduate Research), Academic Program Coordinator Angie Levia (Office of Undergraduate Research), and Academic Program Coordinator Jennifer Santiago (Office of Undergraduate Research). 

Leisina Wolfgramm

Leisina Wolfgramm 
Department of Art & Art History
"Patterns: The Theory of Design in History"
Research Mentor: Meekyung MacMurdie 

Alix Wright
Alix Wright
Department of Art and Art History 
Engaging Embodiments: Exploring Materials, Entities, and Phenomenology
Research Mentor: Moses Williams 

Colin Poly

Colin Poly 
Department of Art & Art History
"Characterizing the Influence of Industrial Fluxes on Aluminosilicate Glass Systems using Spectroscopic Analysis Techniques"
Research Mentor: Ernest Gentry

Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer 
"Exploring the Radicalization of Youth in Alt-Right Spaces through Screenwriting."
Department of Film & Media Arts
Research Mentor: Hubbel Palmer 


Steffan Perez-Velez Solis
School of Music
El Teatro: Latinidad On Broadway
Research Mentor: Elizabeth Craft 

Pablo Cruz Ayala

Pablo Cruz-Ayala
"Enhancing Heart Rate Variability: An Examination of Visual and Identity Stimulus Applications” 
Department of Art & Art History
Research Mentor: John Erickson 

Elle Taylor

Elle Taylor
School of Dance
"Dance Improvisation as a Somatic Healing Tool and Generator of Movement Performance Art"
Research Mentor: Molly Heller 

Published in Finer Points Blog

The College of Fine Arts is honored to present the 2024 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award to Alix Wright from the Department of Art & Art History. 

Alix is an undergraduate researcher whose personal work is exceptional and whose approach to research has motivated students in the Department of Art & Art History to engage in their education beyond the classroom, encouraging them to connect with others and discover their unique paths through higher education. Alix’s impressive accomplishments as an undergraduate researcher in the College of Fine Arts center around interdisciplinary researching learning through text, film and investigating new hands-on material processes. Alix is two-time a recipient of an Undergraduate Research Opportunity grant.

In addition to participating in the University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, Alix has had numerous accomplishments while studying Art. Following is an abbreviated list:

  • The creation of student-led art programming for the Art in the Community class with students within the Department of Art & Art History.
  • The development of student-led art programming for the Women’s Resource Center, the Childcare Center, and all parents and children on campus.
  • Assisting in the first Department of Art & Art History “Student Town Hall” in the Department of Art & Art History to research the current problems faced by students and faculty in the department and propose productive changes.
  • The creation of an event the first week in April where students from the Art & Art History Department will lead workshops for all the kids on campus to make and exhibit their artwork.
  • Leading the University of Utah’s Sculpture Club and organizing educational workshops; writing grant proposals to fund club members extracurricular learning; and organizing two student-driven trips, including a trip in May 2024 to Venice, Italy, to view the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale. This exhibition, includes 332 artists from over 75 countries, allowing for Sculpture Club members to broaden their knowledge of contemporary art, expand cultural experiences, and facilitate connections with classmates. 

In Alix’s nomination, Art & Art History Professor Moses Williams writes:

“I consider myself fortunate to witness Alix’s unwavering dedication to attaining the highest standards of academic, artistic, and professional success. Alix embodies a rare fusion of skills, serving as an example of the extraordinary accomplishments achievable through wholehearted dedication to one's vocation. In all her endeavors, she consistently demonstrates thoughtfulness, positivity, discipline, and insight. In her capacity as my research assistant and as a recipient of a UROP grant, Alix consistently demonstrates thoroughness, efficiency, a commitment to quality, and unwavering reliability. Her keen attention to detail, coupled with a strong desire to achieve the highest level of craftsmanship in her role as an artist and artist educator, positions Alix as an exceptional researcher.”

In 2015, The Office of Undergraduate Research established the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award to recognize an outstanding undergraduate researcher from each college. Faculty mentors are invited to nominate students, and awardees are selected by committee. The criteria for the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award include: a record of sustained commitment to developing research skills and knowledge under the supervision of a faculty mentor, evidence of independent and critical thinking, active participation in research-related activities on campus, and positive contributions to the research culture of the department, college, and university.

Alix Wright 8Alix Wright 3

Alix Twiggs Wright (she/her)
Double major in Psychology and Art with an emphasis in sculpture intermedia

Hometown: Sandy, Utah

Three words that describe you: Kind, patient, and determined

Most impactful class or professor:

Professor Moses Williams has had the biggest impact on my academic career and life in general.

I have had the great privilege to work with Moses in a variety of ways and projects the past two and a half years and I can say without a doubt he has had the biggest positive impact on my time at the University of Utah. He is ambitious, determined, wise, an amazing teacher, incredible artist, and a wonderful friend. He has helped me navigate the difficulties of balancing school, work, and family. He has challenged and supported me in ways I’m so grateful for. I will forever look up to him and be grateful for the influence he’s had on me.

What inspires you:

People are what inspire me. I have loved working so closely with the community and have found a passion in being able to continue that work. It’s through connections and relationships that I believe we find a greater meaning in life. I will always find inspiration from people and the stories they share.

Major accomplishments:

Major accomplishments – this award! Being awarded 2 semesters of UROP with my mentor.

Working with the Women’s Resource Center, Ukids, and the Art Department to create art programming for families on campus. I have been President over Sculpture Club for 2 years and put on many workshops as well as a joint exhibition with Weber State University. We received a FAF grant and raised money to take sculpture club to Venice, Italy to attend the Venice Biennale! Last year we organized a trip to New York City. I am also President of BFA Club and put together the first ever open studios for BFA students, student town hall meetings, and organized the senior exhibition for graduating BFA students. I also put on my own solo exhibition at Bountiful Davis Arts Center last Summer. My greatest accomplishment however, we always be my daughter, Berlin.

Hopes for the coming year:

2 days after graduation I will be traveling to Venice with sculpture club to attend the Venice Biennale! After that I plan to enjoy some much-needed time with family. I have planned to attend a couple workshops over the Summer. I will also be applying to residencies, jobs, and potentially be applying to graduate school in the Fall! I’m looking forward to the new opportunities that will come.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Emeri Fetzer

For composer Amy Scurria, Alice from Lewis Carroll’s beloved “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was an obvious, albeit unconventional, opera heroine waiting to take the stage.

Historically, women are not often the central characters of opera, as aficionados will know. Even when featured, their fates are dark: murder, insanity, violence, heartbreak.

This has never sat well with Scurria. While completing her PhD in music composition at Duke University, she was validated and empowered by “Opera, or the Undoing of Women,” a 1979 book by French philosopher Catherine Clément, who shared the frustration that she could not find herself represented in a medium she loved. Scurria solidified her creative mission.

“This is my opportunity to change this paradigm in whatever way I can,” she said. “My goal is to create operas with female leads who not only don’t die or befall some tragic fate, but they thrive.”

Enter "A.L.I.C.E."

Scurria’s first memory of the beloved character is at age 3, the same year of her earliest memory of falling in love with music. By age 8, she was composing.

“I got interested in writing opera pretty young because all of my works connect to either stories, or poetry, or some kind of extra musical idea,” she said. “Early in my career, I was composing choral and orchestral music, and was thrilled by the idea that I could combine the two in opera.”

Vital in the process of her adaptation of the book to opera, which began in 2019, is Scurria’s life partner and astute storyteller Zane Corriher.

“I write poetry, and create music, but combining them was challenging,” she explained. “I had an idea for a nonsense aria. My process for creating that was to go to the thesaurus and look up all the words for ‘nonsense,’ then count the syllables and organize them in some kind of mathematical way.”

Corriher jumped at the chance to write the libretto. “I think our collaboration together was where it really started to take shape,” Scurria said. “We could have conversations together about what was the driving force behind telling the story.”

Pretty immediately, the two discovered themes in Alice’s story beyond typical depictions of unbridled childhood imaginings, and the loss of such freedom in adulthood. The fundamental question asked by the Caterpillar felt central: “Who are you?” Influenced by Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” Scurria and Corriher’s “A.L.I.C.E” is a quest for identity and self-worth, relatable for the widest spectrum of audiences.

"[The opera] was always written through the lens of the autistic experience. We just didn't know, we didn’t have the word for it.”

The moral? You are enough.

Then, amidst the writing process, Scurria’s own story was forever altered. She was late diagnosed autistic. The message became that much more poignant, and urgent.

“The autism diagnosis made sense of the way Amy made sense of Alice.” Corriher said. "[The opera] was always written through the lens of the autistic experience. We just didn't know, we didn’t have the word for it.”

“I started to understand my life through a new lens, which was the first time I really understood myself,” Scurria said. “There are many aspects of me that make me feel like other, and that’s another reason I related to Alice. I felt very much outside of the mainstream.”

In 2023, Scurria was shopping "A.L.I.C.E" at the National Opera Association conference when she met Robert Breault, Director of University of Utah Opera. The encounter was kismet.

“I took the opportunity to go back to my hotel room and listen to some of her music, and I got that feeling when you hear something, and it just touches you” Breault said.

Premiering the full orchestra version of "A.L.I.C.E" at the University of Utah is special for myriad reasons.

Perhaps most exciting is that students can interact with Scurria, and leave their unique mark on her work, which is constantly evolving.

“We spend a lot of time wondering what Mozart meant by things –– and it's all conjecture,” Breault said. “The process for this has been entirely different because this is the first time that I've directed a piece by a living composer. Our first rehearsal, Amy and Zane were on the big screen in the room with us, talking about their perception and plan.”

IMG 7209L to R: Kirsten Rye, Alison Yang, Sam Plumb, Fiona Galvin, Tori Gilbert

Informed by Scurria’s autistic experience, and a desire to share the piece with all, U Opera is also offering a sensory friendly matinee, for the first time ever.

Thanks to a grant from the Council of Dee Fellows, Scurria and Corriher will be in attendance for the premiere, culminating the entire collaborative process. For Breault, "A.L.I.C.E." is a rare opportunity for singers to develop roles not yet codified in the canon.

“They're not developing these roles based on recordings, which sets up ridiculous standards,” he said. “In this case, they can all take ownership. We're really encouraging them to invest and then enjoy the benefit of that, which is going to mean satisfaction when they get to sing it.” 

Accommodations for the performance include adjusted onstage lighting and sound, no lighting being focused on the audience, no pyrotechnics or sudden loud noises, and the house lights of the theatre remaining on, at a low level, during the performance. In addition, guests are free to talk, leave their seats, or move freely during the performance. Guests are also welcome to bring hand fidgets or use their mobile devices while in the auditorium.

“Essentially, this piece is about the journey of Alice through a lot of challenges, or rabbit holes,” Breault said.” In the end, she has a moment of actualization that is just stunning. The first time I saw it, tears were rolling down my face. I think this opera is going to work at many different levels. Kids are going to see it one way, adults will be able to see it in another –– and hopefully it'll touch everybody.”

ALICE2024 banner

Kingsbury Hall

Apr 12 @ 7:30 pm
Apr 13 @ 2:00 pm* Sensory-friendly
Apr 13 @ 7:30 pm

Tickets here

Published in Finer Points Blog

As a follow-up to the January 2023 Arts + Health Working Group Town Hall and kickoff event, the Arts + Health Working Group is hosting an in-person strategy-planning retreat. The primary goal of this retreat is to identify funding opportunities and set strategic goals for the working group. We will produce deliverable research pursuits and plans for the next steps of working group action. This event is open to all research faculty, staff, post-docs, and students interested in growing the Arts + Health research portfolio from any discipline, subject area, department, or college. Researchers currently operating in this research space, looking for collaborators, and/or planning a response to upcoming, high-impact research opportunities related to Arts + Health research are strongly encouraged to attend. New researchers who have yet to participate in the Arts + Health Working Group are also welcome.  

Examples of potential strategic theme areas may include but are not limited to: art as medicine/wellness; arts-based health intervention/creative arts therapy; creative healthcare; artist health and wellness/health impact on artists; digital health; climate, ecology, and sustainability in A+H; community access/engagement in A+H; mindfulness and mental health in arts; arts and policy; creative aging; and more. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Other strength areas will be explored in addition to those mentioned above. We welcome ideas for other theme areas at the retreat and encourage participants to include other ideas they have in the RSVP form!  

The retreat will take place on April 15th, 2024, from 1pm – 5pm (MST). The location will be provided to those who register. While engaged individuals may have other events or commitments during this time, we welcome your attendance for any portion of the meeting that you can make. 

Please RSVP for this in-person retreat by Monday, April 1st, 2024. RSVPs are accepted HERE.  

Questions can be directed to the AVPR Office. Thank you!

Original post can be found here. 

Published in Arts Research

Emily Mkrtichian, a Morales Post-Doctoral Fellow in the U’s Department of Film & Media Arts, premiered her new film "There Was, There Was Not" earlier this month at the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. The film explores the inner lives of four women living in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as war—both past and present—affects their daily lives. 

The film not only received positive reviews, but was also featured as one of Indiewire’s “5 True/False Film Festival Titles [That] Deserve a Home Now,” where Susannah Gruder wrote that the film “emphasizes bravery and resilience in the face of the war while also serving as a time capsule of their lost, beloved homeland.”

“As a record of the psychological traumas and emotional hurts war and displacement can instigate, giving us a kind of before-and-after picture, ‘There Was, There Was Not’ is a powerful tribute to a former country, and a frustrating illustration of a people’s dream turned nightmare,” wrote Robert Daniels on RogerEbert.com.

On The Moveable Fest, Stephen Saito wrote “Rather than scenes of bombed out buildings, the film surfaces the usually invisible destruction of a culture in real time as the women put aside any hopes they had to simply survive and the bifurcated structure of the film, shrewdly designed by Mkrtichian and co-editor Alexandria Bombach (“On Her Shoulders”), doesn’t suggest a before and after so much as an ongoing test of resilience that ebbs and flows as the situation calls for it.”

In addition to Mkrtichian’s significant success at the festival, there was another triumph for her and the U: U Film MFA Candidate Ryan Ross premiered his short film “Night Audit” at the festival. This film was created by Ross in one of Mkrtichian’s classes, under her mentorship.

Check back for updates on “There Was, There Was Not.” In the meantime, an exclusive clip of the film is available at the International Documentary Association website.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Deadline: 11:59 PM on Monday, April 15, 2024

Link to Apply: https://utah.infoready4.com/#freeformCompetitionDetail/1933804


The VP-NSF Cohort Program (henceforth, “Cohort”) is a university-wide resource that provides up to 20 faculty with NSF-specific mentoring, skill development, and support. Faculty selected to participate in the one-year program will craft an entire NSF proposal with the objective of submitting it the following year (and/or next cycle). The program is designed for both new faculty and those who are new to pursuing NSF funding.

The Cohort program will build a strong foundation for NSF-engaged faculty, providing Cohort members with critical feedback, resources, and grant-writing/development skills specific to NSF criteria and expectations. Cohort is the first in a series of grant writing resources that will be developed by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) to target major federal funders including the NEH, NEA, DOD, DOE, etc. Cohort will work to foster a sense of belonging for faculty engaging in federally funded research and encourage consistent and long-term interdisciplinary collaboration.

Sponsoring Office/Unit: Office of the Vice President for Research

Contact Information: Questions about the above program guidelines, eligibility criteria, application materials, etc. should be directed to Whitney MacKay in the VPR Office.

Website: https://www.research.utah.edu/funding/vp-nsf-cohort-program/

Published in Arts Research

Each year, the Office of the Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs names up to six esteemed University of Utah faculty members as Distinguished Professor, a distinction “reserved for selected faculty members whose achievements exemplify the highest goals of scholarship and research as demonstrated by recognition accorded to them from peers with national and international stature, and whose record includes evidence of a high dedication to teaching and mentoring as demonstrated by recognition accorded to them by students and/or colleagues.” 

And this year, Professor Beth Krensky joins the ranks with this distinction as the first person from the Department of Art & Art History and the fifth in the College of Fine Arts.  

“I am deeply humbled by being afforded this distinction,” Krensky said. “For the past two decades I have had the honor of being part of the Department of Art & Art History and have had the opportunity to work closely with inspirational students and supportive colleagues.” 

Candidates recommended for distinguished professor status must have a record of accomplishments in accordance with the following university-wide criteria:  

  • A record of distinguished performance in research or creative work;  
  • A record of dedication in both classroom teaching and supervision of individual learning; 
  • A record of committed service to the profession.  

Krensky exhibits and performs with a nearly unmatched frequency. Some of her recent projects include a performance at the grand opening of Larnaca Biennale 2023, a performance at the Arte Laguna Prize Exhibition in Venice, Italy, and her exhibition entitled “Between Spirit and Matter” at Yale.  

Some of her recent awards include being selected as a finalist for the 16th Arte Laguna Prize, and being named the 2022 Higher Education Educator of the Year by the Utah Arts Education Association).  

“Professor Krensky is a remarkable creative artist, scholar, and educator of critical pedagogy,” said Art & Art History chair Kim Martinez. “She has dedicated her career to fostering connections between diverse individuals through her community-based pedagogy, art practice, and teaching. Her colleagues in the Department of Art & Art History extend their warmest congratulations to Professor Krensky on this esteemed honor. She is an asset to our community, continuously making significant contributions and inspiring us all.” 

Join us in congratulating Distinguished Professor Beth Krensky!  

Previously named Distinguished Professors from the College of Fine Arts:  

  • Distinguished Professor Emeritus Maurice Abravanel School of Music (Deceased) 
  • Distinguished Professor Emeritus Morris Rosenzweig School of Music 
  • Distinguished Professor Emerita Ellen Bromberg Department of Modern Dance 
  • Distinguished Professor Emerita Bené C. Arnold Department of Ballet (Deceased) 

Click here for a complete list of University of Utah Distinguished Professors (excluding the other five named this year with Distinguished Professor Krenksy).  

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Maureen O’Hara Ure’s (Art) work is on view in an exhibition called “A World Away” from 3/15-4/12 in the Phillips Gallery (444 East 200 South Salt Lake City). Admission is free and the gallery will open Tuesday-Friday from 11am-5pm and Saturday from 11am-4pm. The opening reception is taking place on 3/15 from 6-9pm during Gallery Stroll.

Several of the paintings she’s presenting come from work done as part a University of Utah Faculty Scholarly Research Grant project.

From O’Hara Ure:

For over 20 years, my major projects have all started off with the stimulus of foreign travel. This newest series of paintings at Phillips Gallery, “A World Away”, centers on my experiences the past two years drawing in museums and historical sites in Spain. Returning to my studio, I set about using the raw ideas from the pages of my travel sketchbooks to begin paintings on panel, free to tinker with any historical material I had encountered.

This project was underwritten by a University of Utah Faculty Scholarly Research Grant, which helped fund a first trip sketching in Spain in 2022 (after the pandemic had delayed my travel for 2 years.) I returned last year, and now in the beginning stages of creating an artist’s book from my sketchbooks, have plans to visit again this summer.

I wish to acknowledge help I received from art student Mickayla Koday, who assisted me preparing and documenting panels for this exhibition. She received an award from the University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and is developing her own ambitious project.

Published in Arts Research
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