Displaying items by tag: ArtsForce

by Brenda Payan Medina

Mollie Hosmer-Dillard is an artist and instructor who has had a range of educational and career experiences at the intersection of art and social justice. Most recently, Mollie had the tremendous opportunity to represent incarcerated students at a symposium at Harvard University, titled “Beyond the Bars: Art From Inside.” Twenty-nine incarcerated students' artwork was showcased, which was a special opportunity given the lack of exposure many incarcerated students receive for their work. Having lived in a unique selection of areas including Berlin,Germany, Brooklyn, New York, Denver, Colorado and now Salt Lake City, Mollie’s path as an artist and educator is full of valuable lessons. 

Mollie started her educational journey at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. Following graduation and a year of working to pay off her student loans, Mollie had the opportunity of a lifetime and moved to Berlin, Germany. In Mollie’s words, she was “...lured to Berlin, Germany by a poet friend of mine. He wrote a long series of beautiful letters describing a place that was a center for international artists. I lived there for four years, painting, collaborating with artists, learning German, traveling through Europe. I taught English and eventually started translating from German to English. My first apartment was 100 euros a month, just to put things into perspective – that seems unbelievable now!”

Mollie also had one of her first ventures as an arts educator while in Berlin, and received a grant from the Berlin Office of Cultural Affairs to work with immigrant youth on a comic arts project.

Following her time in Berlin, Mollie moved to Brooklyn, New York, and continued her work as an arts instructor. After receiving another grant from the Queens Arts Council, Mollie taught arts workshops for senior citizens. About her experience teaching older students in New York, Mollie said “...that was when I discovered how amazing it is to provide a space for art-making for “non-traditional” students, where art isn’t an abstract academic pursuit, but is a tool for communicating, for connection, for navigating difference, for self-expression.”

After working a few other positions and exploring a few other places, Mollie moved to Salt Lake City last year to begin her work as the Arts Manager for STEM Community Alliance Program (STEMCAP), a program affiliated with the University of Utah that seeks to provide STEM and, in a recent development, arts programming to students within Utah’s justice system. As the Arts Manager, Mollie teaches art classes weekly at two youth detention facilities and is constantly looking for ways to connect students to their communities through their artwork, and has organized a few exhibitions to do so – one of which happened in our very own Gittins Gallery. The exhibition, titled “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” was organized as a collaboration between the Utah Arts + Justice Lab, Lost Eden Gallery, and the University of Utah’s Department of Art and Art History’s Gittins Gallery.

Mollie’s first glance into the intersection between arts and incarceration was through her previous position as a visiting professor position at Utah Tech University, where she was teaching classes through their Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth Program.

Mollie’s work with incarcerated students has definitely had an influence on her progression as an artist, particularly the lens with which she sees the art world and who is able to access what artistic spaces: “This work has a huge impact on my artistry in a way that I don’t think has fully become metabolized yet. Scholars Jeffrey Reiman and Paul Leighton say that “A criminal justice system is a mirror in which a whole society can see the…outlines of its face. Our ideas of justice…take on visible form in it, and thus we see ourselves in deep relief. That rings true for me, because in my view, incarceration is an incredibly damaging approach to addressing harm in our society. One of the ways that has started to influence me artistically is to draw into clearer view the elitism present in the art world. We’ll see how it begins to make its way into my paintings!”

Outside of her work as an arts instructor, Mollie has had a range of experience showcasing her own work in artist-run spaces, in professional galleries, and in very unconventional spaces in all the places she’s lived. However, the aspect of her career that is most special to her is in organize exhibitions of work by people who are incarcerated: “What I really like about that aspect of my job is that the exhibitions bring into view the artwork by people who often don’t have the opportunity to receive the kinds of validation that public art venues bestow.”

While working at the intersection of the arts and our justice system wasn’t exactly Mollie’s plan, she has noticed that through all her positions, what she has enjoyed the most was “...interacting with people learning in places that are not on a college campus and working with groups of people who are underserved –– I feel they have very important perspectives in making our society a better, safer, richer place for everyone. Our society could learn so much just by listening.”

In her personal artwork, Mollie’s current favorite medium to use is acrylics. Most recently, Mollie has been working on a series of “multi-vocal” paintings, or paintings created by many different people, ones that celebrate many different perspectives. For her pieces, Mollie imposes a series of constraints for each one of these, and invites people to take part in painting individual, laser-cut tiles that then fit together to form a seamless whole. Through her explanations of her work as an instructor and as an artist, it is immensely clear that community is of great importance to Mollie’s within her work as an instructor and as an artist.

Mollie leaves us with a note about making progress as an artist, educator, or simply as an individual: “It’s a process of continual growth on all fronts. I think that’s what keeps things interesting at a personal level, at an artistic level, and at the classroom level. New experiences, new information, new sources of inspiration, new ideas – all of it is important for freshness of approach.”

ArtsForce Takeaways:

  • Be open to new experiences and new ways to involve yourself in arts careers you weren’t familiar with or arts careers that intersect with other areas of study.
  • Remember to see the value of your work as an artist as a way to build community and contribute to a greater body of knowledge - because it is!
  • Build a community where you can – your support system and mentors can (and likely actively seek to) provide opportunities to build up people within their circles. 

Author Brenda Payan Medina is a Materials Science & Engineering and Studio Art double major, and an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. 

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By Brenda Payan Medina

On Friday, February 9th, College of Fine Arts students and the ArtsForce team had the opportunity to visit Abravanel Hall, the Utah Symphony’s home base! As continuing students in the College of Fine Arts, visiting Abravanel Hall and networking with various professionals gave students an inside look as to the array of careers available within the music industry.

Abravanel Hall is located in the heart of Salt Lake City, adjacent to Temple Square. The Trek began in Abravanel Hall’s stunning gold leaf-lined lobby where students were greeted by an intricate blown glass art piece made by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly. Valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, Chihuly’s stunning structure was only an introduction to the wealth of artistry, knowledge, and information that would be shared by arts administrators, artists, and performers of the Utah Symphony.

We were first met by Symphony Education Manager, Dr. Jessica Wiley. After providing us with a rich history of the origins of Abravanel Hall and the Utah Symphony, Jessica led students to the performance hall, where students had the opportunity to be on stage, right next to the perfectly positioned seats of the symphony performers. Jessica explained to students the exactness with which the performance hall, and more generally Abravanel Hall, was constructed. In the performance hall, there are no right angles; right angles catch the sound when orchestra performers play on stage. In addition, in no part of the balconies or wall construction are there nails involved, as nails carry their own vibration and affect the way the music sounds throughout the hall. After gazing at the gold leaf-covered walls, boho crystal chandeliers, and all 2,768 plush green seats, students were led to Abravanel Hall’s music library.

afsymphony2In the music library, students were greeted by performer and librarian Claudia Restrepo. Claudia explained that performances at Abravanel Hall are planned far in advance as a result of the music renting and buying process taking a significant amount of time, and as a result of needing to provide performers the time to practice. Claudia emphasized that each performance is precisely and carefully orchestrated so that performances go as smoothly as possible.

After exploring the performance hall, music library, and a brief stop at Abravanel Hall’s green room, which is a resting area for orchestra performers, students were ready to learn from more individuals directly involved in the Utah Symphony’s amazing performances.

Jen Shark, Operations Manager at the Utah Symphony, shared with students her personal experience as a performer learning about careers in arts administration: “I was also told [that when] you get into an orchestra, that is what you are going for. I didn’t even know about these jobs… it was a process for me to figure out what else I was good at other than my instrument…there are other ways to be a part of the arts without being in a band or orchestra.”

We also heard from a performer, who reminded us to be open to opportunities, even if it doesn’t fit the linear path we had mapped out for ourselves: “You aren’t going to pick one job and do that thing forever… Once you are lucky enough to make money with those things, you can push away what you don’t like. I have this full time job but I still teach and gig and sub with other orchestras… it’s figuring out what you like to do and it is never black and white,” they said. 

ArtsForce Takeaways:

- Be open to having new experiences within the arts, even if it is not something directly aligned with your major.

- Prioritize exploration! The arts have so many opportunities to be involved within the industry that go beyond being solely a performer or an artist.

- Holding different roles within your industry of interest helps build your skillset!

Author Brenda Payan Medina is a Materials Science & Engineering and Studio Art double major, and an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. 

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By Sarah Benedict 

AdrienneRomaSacksAdrienne Roma Sacks is an interdisciplinary artist originally from Phoenix, Arizona who has an expansive portfolio and unique style. Most recently, Adrienne has exhibited her work in Mexico City in “That Which Hangs on Safety Pins and Needles,” a show with paintings making use of expressive and winding lines, carefully considered animal silhouettes, and desolate landscapes. I had the opportunity to speak with Adrienne to discuss how she found success in the arts, the way she approaches creation, and what advice she has for art students today.  

During the interview, I first asked Adrienne about the artists that inspire her work. She immediately mentioned Mike Kelley, who is known for using craft materials, found objects, collage techniques, and drawing, which are all prevalent in Adrienne’s work. Adrienne often treats her projects like experiments, working in iterations and plunging into several areas of the arts. She felt that Kelley’s work, amongst several other inspirations like painter Amy Sillman and painter/sculptor Alake Shilling, gave her the push to be more daring with the mediums she used. She mentioned, “It's nice to see someone do something and you feel like you have permission to approach your art in that way.” Art is not reserved to just one medium or approach, and Adrienne’s work is a tribute to this. 

One philosophy that drives Adrienne’s practice is the rejection of perfectionism. She explains that it’s truly the enemy of the artist, and encourages other artists to push against it. She points out that perfectionism is, “not conducive to making good art or sometimes even making art at all.”  She also encourages artists to always be writing ideas down, sketching, and not worrying about showing off everything you make with others. Make use of the resources you already have, even if it just becomes a small step in the process of carrying out your entire vision. Adrienne put it simply: “do what you can with where you are and what you have.” Always be creating and accepting imperfections. 

Adrienne realizes and also embraces that many artists in similar positions to her must also take on multiple jobs, whether that be in the applied arts or elsewhere.  Adrienne discussed with me how difficult it is to find the energy to continue working on art while also teaching it. Throughout her career, she has taught from preschool and up, working at California State Summer School for the Arts at CalArts, California State University Northridge, and Pratt Munson. She mentions that teaching is the sort of career that you put your entire self into, similar to art. It can be physically and emotionally draining to balance the two. At the same time, she finds that it is undeniably rewarding. For her, teaching is similar to making art because she gets to design experiences that encourage learning. She also thinks it is valuable for people to be interested in multiple career pathways. It’s necessary to do what you can to support yourself as an artist and a human being. 

While balancing multiple jobs since graduation, Adrienne has exhibited her work internationally. I asked Adrienne how someone could go about beginning to exhibit their own artwork. In college, she explained that she started by making her own opportunities and asking to display her work in various public spaces. She said that as you accumulate experience, you improve, and people will notice. She also thought that social media platforms like Instagram, which was not as much of a prevalent resource for her when she was in college, is immensely beneficial now because it can connect you to art communities you would’ve never connected with naturally. After years of exhibiting her work, she finds that her effort to put her art out there has paid off, and now various people will approach her about exhibiting her work.

"Do what you can with where you are and what you have.”

Despite that, even now Adrienne continues to apply for exhibitions everywhere she can, constantly. She emphasized that noes never mean that you are not a good artist. You have to get used to incessant rejection, but she has found that if you apply enough, you will get a lot of yeses too. 

Adrienne feels lucky that her artistic career has taken off, but one of her interests in college was clinical psychology, which she has a bachelor's degree in. The decision to lean into the professional world of art is a daunting process which can often be looked down upon by others in your community. I asked her how she has dealt with people being critical of her decision to switch away from psychology. After having lived in Los Angeles and New York, she has observed that being an artist is far more accepted in places that are considered international art centers. Finding her place in the right environment, where working in the arts is normalized, was helpful. Growing up in Phoenix, she noticed that there is not an abundance of successful contemporary artists, and those that were concerned for her struggled to picture success in the arts. She surmised that being an artist in Salt Lake City probably has a similar effect. She clarifies, “I don’t blame anyone for their misconceptions, but I do think they’re misconceptions.” Finding where your art fits into the world is a necessary step to take in finding success. 

3 NeedlesFrom "That Which Hangs on Safety Pins & Needles" | Adrienne Roma Sacks


On the topic of acceptance, Adrienne expanded on the importance of searching for an intellectual interest to influence your art. She observed that, “what people are hungry for right now is art that can help teach the public something”. Showing information and illuminating prevalent issues through your art is more important than having perfect technical skills, and there really is an endless list of topics that artists can and should dive into. Making art that is impactful should always be top priority. 

We ended the interview discussing what life advice she has for art students now. Though it’s difficult to branch out, she believes it is important to never just prioritize your art practice. Describing herself as an intellectually curious person, she’s found that this aspect of herself has kept her afloat. She thinks, “whether it’s having a part time job, a full-time job, two jobs, you have to do it.” It is tough to make your work known and to plunge into the dark abyss that is life after college, but that is why you must become a multifaceted person. It will ultimately advance your own art and provoke more complex conversations within each piece you create. 

You can look at Adrienne’s work here.

ArtsForce Takeaways:

  • Perfectionism is the enemy of the artist. Challenge yourself to be constantly creating with whatever resources you already have on hand.

  • Don’t wait around for opportunities to appear, make your own instead. 

  • As an art student, it is crucial to search for intellectual interests that enhance the complexity of your art. Avoid focusing solely on your technical skills.

Author Sarah Benedict is studying Film & Media Arts with an emphasis in Animation, and minoring in Drawing and Arts Technology. She is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. 

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By Danielle Horlacher

Every year, countless artists show and sell their work at art festivals internationally. Utah is lucky to be the home to many amazing festivals: The Utah Arts Festival, Park City Kimball Arts Festival, The Urban Arts Festival, and so many more. These festivals can be a great way for artists to sell their work while connecting with their audience.

But, being invited to sell at festivals can seem intimidating and confusing –– which is why I sat down with local Utah artist Sarah Jean Holt who has a lot of experience selling her work at shows.

Better known as SJ, Holt is a self-taught, fine artist based in Salt Lake City. You can find her work in juried fine arts festivals in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico as well as galleries in her home state. From her artist statement: "All of my work is done in pen and ink - exclusively using the stipple technique... this means that I draw one little dot at a time. It's a painstakingly slow process, but the result is a highly detailed piece with an intriguing texture. Occasionally I will infuse a piece with a touch of color, usually with colored pencil. My subject matter tends to be whimsical, often playful. I've often been asked where my inspiration for my art comes from. I know that artists typically have some deep, soul-rending answer for this. Mine is simple: I love what I do. My inspiration is my passion for creating something beautiful and the startling rush of emotion I feel every time I step back to look at a finished piece. It never fails to surprise me."

The first, and arguably most important, piece of advice SJ offered is to start attending as many events as you can; but with the perspective of a participating artist. Observe the booths, learn what you like (and don’t), what grabs your attention, and what configurations work for a smooth flow. Don't be afraid to ask artists about their setup, and how it works. Not everyone may be eager to answer, but you’ll often find artists are excited to help and offer advice. Once you have been through a few, you can begin designing and setting up your own booth and in doing so, you can acquire the ever-important booth shot.

What is a booth shot?

A booth shot is an image of your booth from roof to bottom displaying all three sides of the booth and showing off your ability to design the space to look welcoming and professional. A shot of your booth is often required by bigger arts festivals. This photo is for the jury to help decide who they invite to the show, so you must take great care in getting a good image that shows every part of your booth in one photo. Do not include any identifying material so that it can be anonymous. Since a booth shot is required for most major festivals, it's always a good idea to participate in a smaller show to give you the opportunity to solidify your booth shot. Here, you can see SJ’s booth.

Advice for booth setupbooth shot

“My first booth was a hot mess, we had these huge thick walls that I hung these heavy curtains on to cover the corners with,” SJ explained. “I had a wooden table that ran through the middle of the booth and I had my prints displayed on that. It was hot, miserable, and the flow of traffic was bad.” She soon adapted her booth to have much better airflow, displays, and presentation. Today, her stunning booth provides much more than just a space to show art –– it’s an environment in which to fully experience her art. 

I asked her what she used to stand out. “For me, it's my presentation, my ladders, my vintage table, my vintage suitcase for displaying, and an antique cabinet. I have lanterns for when it gets dark, and string lights on the top of my booth. Everything about it is just welcoming and homey,” she said.

Having a better-designed booth brought in more people interested in her work. “People now look and want to know what is going on inside there,” she said, which has led to both more engagement and more sales. So making sure to carefully consider your setup in airflow, walkway, environment, and feeling can make for an even more successful festival.

Preparing your work

When submitting to enter an art show, there are four main things to consider: your category, jury pieces, prices, and the number of pieces to get started. Carefully considering these topics will increase your chances of not only showing but also having a successful time selling.

Since SJ works with ink and occasionally colored pencils in her stipple work, her category is drawing. Figuring out your category dictates the kind of work you are allowed to display. This can be different for each festival, and it is important to research the rules for each one. Organizers do not want artists encroaching on other disciplines' territories, so for example, t-shirts might be limited to printmakers only, or if you use some paint in your drawings this can change your category from drawing to mixed media. Make sure your body of work closely follows the category you intend to apply for. octopuscourtesy SJ Holt

Jury pieces are usually about four images that show your ability for composition, design, skill, craftsmanship, and consistency. It is important to select images that all fit a theme. Often, style is not enough. If you like painting portraits, landscapes, and still life, SJ recommended that you pick one. In your booth, you can have a bit more freedom when it comes to subject matter, but it is important for judges to see consistency.

Pricing, that elusive step that is especially difficult for new artists, is crucial. Of course, this is all dependent on the work you do and the time you spend on any given image. SJ sometimes spends upwards of 100 hours on a single image. This can be difficult to price as a good wage for that time would be difficult to sell. She breaks down hours by offering prints that sell enough to make the time worth it. She also stressed to make sure your prints are of high quality, such as giclee.

As you figure out how to set prices, look at other artists who are in a similar category and skill level. Seeing others’ prices is an important metric that can be helpful.

While originals are a big purchase category, not everyone can afford them, so having things like stickers or small ticket items can help bring people in and boost sales. SJ also recommends having bundle prices as people always love a deal. If you have 3-5 artworks that go together those are great things to bundle as “People always seem to want to buy at least 2 of something in a series,” SJ remarked.

SJ suggested an artist start with at least 12 pieces to fill your booth. Having a large body of work is essential in selling as you have more to offer to each person’s tastes. Making sure the pieces are at eye level and easy to access helps viewers enjoy your work and fall in love.

Now it's time for you to get started

You never know until you try! Remember these key things as you put yourself out there:

  • Look at other booths and find what you like until you can design something you're happy with.

  • Preparing your booth and booth shot is the first step in starting at festivals.

  • Make sure you understand the rules of the show and you can select work that shows your best skills.

  • SJ’s hot tip: The Urban Arts Festival is a great place to start as a new artist before jumping into the deep end as it does not require a booth shot!

Author Danielle Horlacher is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce and is currently working toward her BFA with an emphasis in Illustration. 

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By Sarah Benedict 

In November, CFA students visited BW Productions to learn more about what a career in the film and photography industry might look like. This was the second ArtsForce Career Trek of the semester and it gave students the opportunity to network with and learn from local arts professionals. 

BW Productions Inc. is a media production company with three separate divisions: BW, Cutthroat, and Cinema Forte. Each specialize in various areas in video and photography, including commercial production, video editing, and feature film production.

Brent Uberty, the founder and managing director of BW Productions, kicked off the tour by explaining and demonstrating the capabilities of their grip and lighting stage. Students were allowed to step onto the stage and be fully immersed by the green lights, floors, and walls left over from their most recent project.

After this, students were allowed to explore the building on their own, looking at the break areas for actors. Then, students gathered back on the stage for a panel arranged by the company.

There is no one true path into video production. This idea was evident from the four panelists at BW. Brent started the panel off by introducing Mariah Salazar, producer for BW Productions; Aaron Alviso Stephenson, senior writing director and producer of Cinema Forte; and Greg Johnson, the VP of Cinema Forte. Everyone that spoke came from varying backgrounds, from studying film at the University of Utah to working in a music store and being asked to make music videos. Despite coming from different starting points, they have all found success in their careers. Trek1

Mariah shared some advice for those entering the professional world: “Don’t be afraid to fail when you’re first starting out.” What matters most is what you do to improve and advance your skills, taking lessons away from not only the mistakes you make but the mistakes those around you make. It’s always important to ask questions, reflect on how your projects could have gone smoother, and remain open minded. Starting out as a production assistant, these approaches allowed her to enter the world of producing, which she explained was really a job all about problem solving.

It’s not a matter of if equipment will break, but when. Brent mentioned this later and stressed that transparency and good communication is key. It’s especially vital in this industry to make a good impression since it will determine whether or not you’ll be hired for the next project.

Mariah explained that every day looks different at her job, fondly describing a shoot that involved puppies on ice. She also emphasized that you must always be willing to adapt and grow. The only thing consistent in the film industry is that it changes.

Aaron also had simple yet indispensable advice: don’t wait to start making stuff. This is the only way to get better and to create an opportunity for success. Gather the resources you already have and make the stories you want to tell. 

While leaving, students were given stickers with Cutthroat’s logo and told about how they can become involved in their future projects.

Keep an eye out for BW’s upcoming internship and apprenticeship opportunities! They will also be hosting multiple community events and workshops throughout the year. 

ArtsForce Takeaways:

  • Don’t feel that there is one set way to get into video production and photography. There are multiple, legitimate career pathways. 

  • Always be adaptable and be prepared for mistakes to happen on set. 

  • Take initiative to create the projects you’re interested in. 

Author Sarah Benedict is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce, studying Film & Media Arts with an emphasis in Animation and minoring in Drawing and Arts Technology.

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by Mors Smith

Hello College of Fine Arts students! 

Arts education is an important part of the fine arts, but often overlooked. To learn more about arts education, I interviewed Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) former K-12 Educator Golda Dopp Ovalles. Golda was responsible for UMOCA’s educational curriculum and their Traveling Art Museum. UMOCA is a non-profit organization and was founded in 1931. Since then, they have been a hub for the growing art scene in Utah, and a great place for people of all ages to learn about the arts.

The Traveling Art Museum, or Art Truck for short, is a project that aims to help bridge the gap for those in Utah who are not able to go to UMOCA. Each year,  UMOCA educators travel to K-12 schools to share a new exhibition inside the Art Truck. The project is funded by the Professional Outreach Program in Schools, or POP grants, in the state of Utah. To qualify for the funding,  UMOCA must visit each school district in Utah within 3 years. During each visit, they see about 8-10 classes, back-to-back. Students can go inside the truck for a 30-minute presentation, and then learn more with their teachers, who are prepared ahead of time with extra content and lesson plans from the Educator Manual related to the exhibition.

Another important aspect of employment in the arts, especially in an education context, is the ability to advocate for and clearly communicate the value of the arts. I asked Golda how she approaches advocating for the arts in her position.

“While at UMOCA, I have refined my ability to communicate the impact and necessity of the arts in Utah’s education system. For me, the most crucial component of advocacy is understanding my audience. I advocate for funding with the legislature, I advocate for our programming by inviting teachers to participate, and I advocate for internal innovations with our Director. Each party is compelled by different statistics and stories, so I am constantly gathering data that will strengthen my stance. I also must understand the audience I am serving by constantly learning about our student body demographic and how I can best engage them.”

Golda stressed the importance of working together with teachers to help them with the state’s education standards, so they could get the most out of their visit to UMOCA or to the Art Truck. Ultimately, the program helps all involved understand the value of the arts in education.

I asked what challenges she has had to face with pursuing a career in the arts.

“I think most of mine are specific to a non-profit. The same things that make it so wonderful are the same things that make it challenging,” she explained. “For example, I'm so passionate about what I do, and so are my colleagues. That can make it hard to strike a good work-life balance because you're so invested in it…You still need to prioritize taking care of yourself so you don't burnout.”

This sentiment is one that I see very often in the arts, and it's important to take it to heart. Finding a good work-life balance is important even when you enjoy your work.

Reflecting on her career, Golda also offered advice about searching for employment within the arts.

“Sometimes finding a job can be challenging. The way that I landed this position was interning. I think it's so important to get real world experience in your undergrad or while you're a student, because academia is way different than a full-time job.”

Being able to make connections while in school is crucial. It can make a huge difference in finding a job once you graduate. Being a student also opens you up to unique networking opportunities and mentorships. For me, being able to intern with ArtsForce has helped my professional development grow and has helped me build connections in the arts.

Outside of K-12 Education, Golda mentored interns who helped craft educational content for UMOCA. I wondered what skills she thought were most important for students.

“I think you just need to be comfortable trying things, throwing ideas at the wall, taking the initiative. If you see a project you'd be interested in –– I love when interns are like, ‘Hey, can I do this? Can I create this worksheet to go along with this manual or this exhibition?’ I love when they show that they're proactive, and that they're not afraid to make a mistake. Questions are great, but I love when they try it first.”

Golda then summarized the overall qualities that she looks for in interns.

“What I am looking for in an intern is initiative, problem-solving skills, and confidence. I am most impressed when interns identify an opportunity for growth in the education department and then present a thoughtful solution.”

Taking initiative can be kind of scary when we don’t have professors to guide us along the way. But once we hit the workforce, being able to take that first step and voice our ideas can make all the difference.

Lastly, I asked Golda for her biggest piece of advice to current fine arts students.

“I don't want it to be overwhelming to consider being hired on once you graduate, but you do have to look to that horizon. Once you do start the job search after, of course, you have interned and networked, I would focus on specific places you'd be interested in working rather than just a blanket job search on Google. Even while you're a student, be looking: ‘Okay, I'd really like to work at UMOCA. I'm going to keep an eye on their job descriptions and what kind of skills they're looking for so I can be building them now.’ Because your degree is only one checkmark on that qualification.”

As a ceramic artist, this really resonated for me. I don’t often see “traditional” jobs for ceramics. Being able to focus on my job search by organization rather than position really helped shift my worries about jobs. Find places you would enjoy working at and keep an eye on them! Don’t be afraid to reach out to organizations.

Jobs are out there in the arts, it just helps to have strategies to find them.

ArtsForce Takeaways

  • Take initiative and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

  • Start making connections and find places you want to be involved in.

  • Find a good work-life balance to avoid burnout.

Author Mors Smith is an ArtsForce Emerging Leaders intern double majoring in Studio Art with a Ceramics Emphasis, and Gender Studies.

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By Mors Smith

Hello CFA students! This October, ArtsForce had the opportunity to visit Pioneer Theatre Company for our first Career Trek this year. 

What are Career Treks, you ask? Career Treks are all about going to a fine arts organization within Utah to see the many career possibilities available in the arts.
Pioneer Theatre Company (PTC for short) first opened in 1962 and was dubbed the “State Theatre of Utah”. Since then, PTC has grown to be known for Broadway-quality performances, and is now one of the premiere non-profit theatres in Utah. They are located on the University of Utah campus and serve as a cultural hub and educational space for students and community alike.

At the start of the trek we gathered inside the theatre where we were greeted by Associate Artistic & Outreach Director, Eric Jackson and Company & Operations Manager, Lisa Edwards. They gave us an overview of their roles, and how they came to find themselves at PTC. After becoming familiar with the responsibilities of these administrative positions, we split into groups to explore the theatre and learn about other career paths. 

Walking through the lobby, we learned about a common misconception about theatre. Many think ticket sales pay the bills, but sales actually account for very little profit. PTC, like many theatres, raise money from donors to help fund the brunt of the costs of running a theatre and producing shows. We stopped by some of the administrative offices housing the development, graphic design, and marketing teams. Each year, these positions allow the theatre to host its production season.

We got a special backstage peak at “Murder on the Orient Express,” PTC’s first production this season. We could see the inner workings of the set, and behind that, the set for the next show, “The Rocky Horror Show” being painted. On either side of the stage were places for woodworking, welding, and props. Descending into the lower levels of PTC directly under the stage, a variety of rooms are connected by a tunnel that facilitates efficient travel to both sides. PTCtrek2

One room of note was the trap room that is utilized for when performers need to fall under the stage for dramatic effect. Sometimes this room is used as overflow for performing music ensembles. So much infrastructure is required to facilitate a performance, and while it might not be visible on stage, this work can make or break a performance. When a performance is not in session, where do the performers go?

From beneath the stage, we visited the green room and dressing rooms: both spaces for performers to relax and prepare. PTC also has a variety of rehearsal spaces: one small space meant for rehearsing parts of scenes, and a larger rehearsal space that can represent the whole stage. Alongside, there is a dedicated work space where PTC’s tailors were busy at work on costumes. We briefly looked through their costume storage and discussed the process of fitting the actors properly for clothing and wigs. We saw a whole wall of wigs used for the current show! 

Trevor Long, PTC’s Production Manager, joined us for the Q&A session with Eric Jackson and Lisa Edwards. The three shared advice for those who would be interested in a career in theatre, stressing the importance of having good communication skills, and leaving a good impression. They emphasized that many art skills can be transferable into theatre and many jobs. Lastly, they encouraged us not to be afraid to start in entry-level positions –– voice your interests and opportunities will come.

In fact, internships and volunteer opportunities are available at PTC if you are interested!
Email Eric Jackson at 

Make sure to join ArtsForce for our next Career Trek November 3rd, to BW Productions.

ArtsForce Takeaways

1. If there is a direction you want in your career, walk towards it

2. Never stop learning, learning is important to the arts

3. Networking with those in your industry is very important to getting a job

Author Mors Smith is an ArtsForce Emerging Leaders intern double majoring in Studio Art with a Ceramics Emphasis, and Gender Studies.

Published in Finer Points Blog
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By Ava Crane

As a visual artist, curator, and museum professional, Nancy Rivera brings iteration, intention, and her lived experience to her work. During my conversation with the multi-talented artist and Director of Planning and Program at Utah Museum of Fine Arts, I gained many insights applicable to both new and experienced artists alike.

Rivera’s work includes "Family Portrait," a series of cross-stitched portraits based on the photographs used for her family members’ identification through the immigration process, and No Present to Remember, photographs on broadcloth made into sculptural objects using salt from the Great Salt Lake.

Rivera’s evocative works are often built out of inspiration and experimentation. The idea for "No Present to Remember" came to her after she wanted to go beyond the 2D constraints of photography and was inspired by seeing other artists bring photography into the third dimension.

“I always labeled myself as a photographer, but always saw it as a tool, not the end product…” she sFamily Portrait, 2020. Nancy Riveraaid. “It is always very one dimensional in many ways, so I wanted to push the medium into being something different.” 

The idea for the sculptural forms came to her in a dream. Once she had the idea, she experimented with different forms. “I went to the store and bought this piece of cotton,” she explained. “I started playing with it and I didn’t have any images at this point. I was just trying to see if I could make fabric sculptural in a way that was kind of unexpected.”

3 Rivera Nancy Autorretrato MexicanaFamily Portrait, 2020. Nancy Rivera

Much of Rivera’s work has been a process of experimentation and self-discovery. She completed her BFA at Weber State and later attended the University of Utah Department of Art & Art History for her master’s program. Over her career as an artist, she has continued the refinement of her artistic process. “…what you are creating then [as a student] is not representative of who you will be once your work matures,” she said. “It takes a long time to get there and really understand yourself as an artist. There is still a lot to discover about yourself as person that will inform your art.”

Rivera has a unique perspective as she has been on both sides of rejection when it comes to art. As an experienced juror and curator, she can’t overstate the importance of being able to both speak and write about your own work. “Something I see a lot is people not knowing how to write about their artwork,” she said. “Know that you have to spend a lot of time thinking about what your art is saying and learn how to speak about it concisely and smartly and in a way that will pique people’s interest.” Being able to not only describe your work in accessible terms, but to also be able to tailor it to your audience is an essential skill.

"It takes a long time to get there and really understand yourself as an artist. There is still a lot to discover about yourself as person that will inform your art.”

While feedback is essential to growth, Rivera shared that it is important to not take rejection to heart, because it isn’t always about the quality of your work. She explained that jurors for exhibitions will often be handling hundreds of works of art. “I usually start off with saying no to the things that absolutely don’t fit, but then from here you see what mixes together and what stands out,” she said. “A lot of times it is not because your artwork is bad that you get rejected, it is simply because it didn’t fit the overall idea of the project.” 

Sometimes a work isn’t selected, because of variety of factors due to the show’s vision, scale, timeliness, audience, and more. She also speaks to how willing people are to help. More often than not, reaching out to artists, professionals, jurors, or curators for feedback won’t hurt and if they have the chance, it could help to get feedback on why your work or application was rejected.

At the root of Rivera’s artistic practice is intention and being able to clearly communicate meaning whether in administrative work to building a portfolio and more. As a curator that favors concise exhibitions herself, she is conscious about finding the through line in her own work to create a sense of focus and self-awareness about her artistic goals. She recommends artists to rather than focus on being as broad as possible, to instead ensure a strong sense of artistic focus and to be selective about what does and doesn’t fit within that focus.

Her lived experience of immigration is a clear and valuable focus in both her artistic and administrative work. In her time at the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, she was able to build up the artist fellowship program. The program offers support to individual artists, but prior to Rivera, the program tended to award to mainly white and established artists. Rivera sought out local, experienced, and talented jurors of color to increase the diversity amongst fellowship recipients. As a result, the fellowships welcomed more women and people of color.

“Having that awareness really helped shape things differently and make people aware that there are artists with that are coming from different places,” she explained. “By that I mean immigrants, undocumented people who need access to the support that we offer, but we need to talk about it differently. It was really cool to see tangible change through small steps that were really intentional.”

ArtsForce Takeaways: 

  • Experimentation and iteration are important to a healthy artistic practice.

  • Learn how to write and speak about your work.

  • Don’t take rejection to heart and reach out for help from professionals.

  • Be intentional with what you want to communicate.

  • Your lived experience is valuable.

Author Ava Crane is a Film and Media Arts student with minors in Spanish and Arts Technology, and an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Michael Isaac Palmer

As students in the arts approach careers, it can be easy to become fixated on a specific path. Many film students want to become independent feature directors, many ballet dancers want to become principal dancers of a company, and many theatre students aspire  to work on Broadway. Some of them will accomplish those very things!

But for some, including me at times, options that look different than the planned path can feel like failing. Once a goal is in mind, we can become myopic in trying to achieve it. But at the end of the day, the arts are uniquely broad with possibility, and expanding your horizons is often the key to success and contentment.

To explore more on this topic, I spoke with three artists with similar education and ambitions to myself, all of whom are doing something different than they originally planned, on how they found career paths they’re satisfied with and what it took to get there. 

“When I first got my start, I worked with a professor of mine as a boom op, because he was still working in the industry. Being friendly and professional on set, actively seeking those connections, got me the next job, and it just went from there."

-Sean Weitzel

Sean Weitzel has always known he was interested in sound, he’s been building out his own gear for years. But when jobs started coming in, he left a bachelor’s degree behind to pursue them. Now, in-between gigs as a sound mixer, he’s developed several pieces of gear in beta-testing on major sets around the country, from a lighter boom pole attachment to a clapboard that syncs with cameras timecode for a fraction of the cost of current models. When I spoke with him, he’d just gotten an oscilloscope to examine the voltage of the timecode output, and when he got more technical than that I stopped being able to follow him. One of the things we talked about was the groups that he tended to work with again and again. Candlelight Media, a family friendly production company based in Orem, had used him as their sound mixer for most of their last dozen productions, and he’d flown around the world with them to do it.

“It was great, like I just stayed in a real castle for two weeks, filming a time-travel rom-com,” he said. Opportunities like that would never be possible if he hadn’t been so flexible as to what he was looking for. “When I first got my start, I worked with a professor of mine as a boom op, because he was still working in the industry. Being friendly and professional on set, actively seeking those connections, got me the next job, and it just went from there.”

Jordan Boge works in creative marketing for CNN. After graduating with a masters in film from the U Department of Film & Media Arts, he cast a wide net for jobs. But it was the internship he’d done right after undergrad that led to his current position. The CNN internship coordinator from his time there had moved to Turner Classic Movies, and was more than happy to have him back under her wing. “It was so important that I’d kept up that connection,” he said. While it wasn’t exactly what he’d gone to school for, it set him up to continue working at Warner Bros. Discovery. For Jordan, never having one “dream job” in mind was key. When I spoke with him, he was frank about needing to keep his horizons open. “While it isn’t exactly what I had in mind while I was in school, I’m really satisfied by what I do, and I get to go home and live a life outside of work.” 

Connor Rickman, a University of Utah graduate in both theatre and film, has made a feature length film. It’s awesome. (I may be slightly biased, I worked on it my freshman year.) From the outside, Connor is someone who has done what he wanted to do most. So I was surprised to hear he’s going back to school, to get his MBA from Duke. The more I talked with him, the more I understood how his path is evolving over time. He started as a Production Office Assistant, working his way up to Production Coordinator, but now works for Wrapbook, a film payroll company, as a customer support specialist. His years of experience in the offices of film companies gives him a unique insight into the needs of payroll staff, and he’s getting the MBA to pursue further opportunities at the company. He was quick to say that he had no regrets, that “while the path I was on was not the path I decided to continue, it’s way better than making the safe choice when I was younger.” He elaborated: “It’s so easy for this job to become your identity, because it’s freelance. ‘I’m a gaffer’ or ‘I’m a dolly grip,’ but no, you don’t have to be any one thing.” Flexibility was key for Connor, and it allowed him to work on a lot of different sets, way more than a lot of his colleagues, who always wanted to be just that one thing. “And the connections I made –– I sort of engineered the feature into place,” he explained. Every director will tell students “just go make movies,” but Connor focused more on the people that would get excited to work with him.

Overall, each of these people pay the bills in something related to the film world. They work on projects they’re passionate about, but they also work on projects that help them maintain financial stability. As hard as it can be to accept, you can be happy in the arts in wildly different ways than you’d expect.

ArtsForce Takeaways:

  • Don’t let yourself be defined by a skill you have.

  • Keep your connections, you never know when they’ll come back to help you.

  • Pursue your passions, but expand your horizons while doing so.

  • Always be open to the next opportunity.

Author Michael Isaac Palmer completed a degree in Mathematics, but in defiance of a desk job, stayed in school to pursue Film. He also holds minors in Theatre and French. He is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

by Kira Sincock 

In April, ArtsForce had the exciting opportunity to visit Eccles Theater for the last Career Trek of the year. During the tour, students were able to learn about the inner workings of a notable organization that is dedicated to bringing the national performing arts scene to our local community.

We met Cami Munk, Marketing and PR Manager, in the lobby of Eccles Theater to kick off the tour. As trek attendees were filling in, she described the history of the building, as well as the artistry that went into its new design. The lobby itself is a living gallery, in which fixtures like the chandeliers and flooring were handcrafted by artists, specifically for the Eccles.

After admiring how much detail went into the lobby alone, Cami led us into the actual theater. We marveled at the star-like ceiling and the shimmering walls as we filled the seats near the front of the stage. She explained how the theater aimed to mimic the scenery of southern Utah. The color palette of the space consisted of warm hues to match Utah’s red rocks. The walls were sequined and the catwalks above us were covered in lights to imitate the starry night skies one might encounter in Utah’s deserts.

As we settled into our seats, Cami dove into the operations at Eccles Theater. She explained the range of shows Eccles has featured, from Hamilton to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Because Eccles Theater is partners with Broadway Across America, Utahns have the chance to connect with acclaimed Broadway performances. In terms of careers, Cami emphasized that Eccles Theater needs a diverse range of skill sets in order for it to run. Some examples of disciplines at the theater are marketing/communications, arts administration, sound/audio design, and even carpentry. This drove home the notion that there is a need for your skills in every facet of the arts, even if it is in a place where you least expect it. 

afeccles3Upon hearing the wide variety of careers at Eccles Theater, many students in the audience were curious as to how they might get the skills necessary to become a viable candidate in the future. Cami described how volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door and make connections. Not only do you get to meet people that work at the organization you’re interested in, but you also gain exposure to the operations of the company just by being present. She also noted that regardless of getting a degree or learning on the job, it doesn’t matter how you get your experience as long as you can prove you have the knowledge. In terms of soft skills, Cami shared that being a good person to work with is just as important as your technical skills. Beyond attention to detail and good communication, it is especially important in the performing arts to be adaptable and quick at making decisions.

As we neared the end of our tour, Cami took us backstage to see the theater from the performer’s perspective. She conducted a brief lighting demonstration and touched on the elaborate sets that a show may bring with them on the road. If our time at Eccles Theater wasn’t exciting enough, Cami sealed the deal by walking us through their poster hallway that boasts murals from their past shows and performances. Abiding by a strict “no touching” rule, we were able to observe signatures from cast members, comedians, and musicians.

Our time at Eccles Theater was the perfect way to wrap up the spring semester.

We hope you have a great summer, and are looking forward to seeing you again at our Career Treks in the fall!

Author Kira Sincock is studying Game Art within the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, and minoring in Drawing within the College of Fine Arts. She is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. 

Published in Finer Points Blog