Displaying items by tag: Department of Art & Art History

Diana Tran

Pronouns: She/Her

Majored in: Graphic Design

Hometown: West Valley City, Utah

Three words that describe you: Hard-working, ambitious, idealist

Most impactful class or professor: I’m not sure I am able to pick one, because I’ve enjoyed and learned so much from all of the professors and classes I’ve come across during my time in college. Every professor impacted my perspective and practice in various ways. But most significantly, I am grateful for the confidence and reinforcement they have given me, allowing me to better recognize my value as a designer and artist.

A CFA moment you’ll never forget: Exploring the art and art history building with my environmental graphics class. We discovered many of its quirks, flaws, charms, and even got a wonderful history lesson from Shawn Porter. This experience made me appreciate and admire the building like I hadn’t before.

What inspires you: My parents, who immigrated to the US and sacrificed so much for their children, inspire me to live the life I want to, because they granted me the privilege of choice. My younger brother inspires me to work hard, start legacies, and be the best role model I can be. My talented peers, inspire me to never stop pushing myself to be a better designer. My friends, who root for me endlessly, inspire me to keep dreaming big.

When I hear stories of successful creatives in the industry and see all the wonderful art being produced, I am inspired, hoping that one day that could be me too.

Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:

  • I am a first-generation college graduate!
  • Utah Opportunity Scholar (2019-2023)
  • Dean’s List (2019-2023)
  • Had two works featured in the juried student art exhibition (2020)
  • Contributor and presenter for the Institute of ImPossible Subjects, Migratory Times: Migratory Monsters Discussion Session #4 on the “Body and Horror” (2021)
  • Featured in the Utah Chronicle for “Let’s Talk About Race” project. Worked on a team design strategy project, setting up a temporary installation in the Marriot Library to collect students’ opinions on race. (2021)
  • Carmen Morton Christensen Scholarship Recipient (2022-2023)
  • CFA Jack Luck Summer Study Prize Recipient (2022)
  • Spent a summer studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea at the prestigious Yonsei University (2022)
  • Social media influencer for the Utah Learning Abroad Instagram takeover program (2022)
  • AIGA student group treasurer (2022-2023)
  • Worked on a student team to design the identity for the graphic design senior show (2023)
  • Ethel Armstrong Rolapp Award Nominee (2023)
  • College of Fine Arts Class of 2023 Convocation Speaker (2023)

Hopes and plans for upcoming year: I hope to secure a stable full-time job doing design, get into new hobbies and learn more creative skills like photography and filmmaking, spend more time with my loved-ones, go to concerts, and travel. Most of all, I can’t wait for homework-free weekends!

College of Fine Arts 2023 Convocation will take place Friday May 5th at 12p in Kingsbury Hall. Learn more here. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

 The College of Fine Arts is delighted to present the 2023 Outstanding Seniors from each of our five academic units.

These individuals were nominated for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. We are inspired by each of them, and look forward to witnessing the ways they continue to contribute to our community. We are honored to have shared their time here as students.


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Avery Greig
Department of Art & Art History 

Pronouns: She/They

Majored in: Art History Major with a Diversity Certificate and a Business Minor

Hometown: I was born in Detroit, Michigan but moved to Utah from Boston, Massachusetts which I consider my second home. 

Three words that describe you: Driven, Visionary, and Open-Minded

Most impactful class or professor: My most impactful professor at the U has been Professor Sarah Hollenberg! She is a wonderful professor who urges her students to think about varying perspectives — which has greatly impacted the way I think as an undergraduate student. I really enjoyed working with her when I was the President of the Art History Student Association (AHSA), of which she was our faculty advisor and truly helped me reach for cool opportunities and get out of my comfort zone. I loved taking her Museum Practices course in which every member of the class was assigned a museum job position and as a class we created our own museum together. I will never forget that. 

A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I will never forget taking group trips to the UMFA with the Art History Student Association! 

What inspires you: Inspiration surrounds me constantly! I find little bits of inspiration all around me. I am greatly inspired by visual art and music — if you see me walking on campus, I always have my earbuds in and my head in the sky, looking at trees and plants or the shapes of the buildings on campus. Music and visual art really inspire me in my writing in the Utah Daily Chronicle, often when I find myself stuck I will turn to various forms of art media to get my writing flow back. My brilliant mother, strong father, and hard-working brother all inspire me and support me to reach my goals each and everyday, and I am inspired greatly by my beautiful and creative friends who push me to reach for big and bright things. 

Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: I was a pre-professional ballerina at the Boston Ballet when I was in high school, President of the Art History Student Association at the U and Arts Desk Editor at the Daily Utah Chronicle. In my time as AHSA president, I co-organized a successful three part professional lecture series centering on underrepresented voices in the art world, bringing in professionals to talk to university students. Last year, I was awarded 1st Place for Best Arts Writing for the University of Utah’s Student Media which was a big honor. I also held an internship with the Utah State Department of Arts and Museums where I worked directly with the state art archive. I am extremely honored to be named this year's Art and Art History Department Outstanding Senior.

Hopes and plans for the coming year: This coming year, I am hoping to transition into an archival-based job position while I start planning for graduate school! I am planning on pursuing a Masters in Library Sciences graduate degree. Additionally, I plan to travel around this summer, including a trip back home to Boston and to Florence, Italy!

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Megan Lynch 
School of Dance 

Pronouns: She/Her

Majored in: Ballet BFA, History BA

Hometown: Winona, Minnesota 

Three words that describe you: Dedicated, passionate, optimistic

Most impactful class or professor: It is difficult to narrow it down to one person, but I find that Pablo Piantino is woven throughout my entire four years in the School of Dance. He has simultaneously challenged and encouraged me to be my most authentic self, and exude excellence both on and off stage, inside and outside the classroom. I also find that Christopher Alloways-Ramsey, Justine Sheedy-Kramer, and Maggie Tesch, who have advocated for me and mentored me over the years are also essential to my success. 

A CFA moment you’ll never forget: During my first performance with the School of Dance, the entire cast I was performing with got a card and signed it to encourage me. It taught me the importance of creating a community that cares and supports each other, and how a small act of kindness and encouragement can make such a large impact. I still have the card to this day and make a point to do similar acts for my peers. 

What inspires you: I am inspired by kind and passionate people in any area of study, willing to share that passion with others. 

Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:

  • Merit Scholarship, Ballet Department
  • Service Scholarship, College of Fine Arts
  • Ungraduated Research Opportunity Program (UROP) scholar and grant recipient
  • Research Assistant, Professor ShawnaKim Lowey-Ball, History department
  • President of Character Dance Ensemble (2022-23), Vice President (2021-22), Member (2019-2023)
  • Vice President of Student Dance Exposure Committee (2021-2023)
  • Student Advisory Council (SAC) co-president, School of Dance, Ballet Department Representative
  • FAF grant council committee member
  • Performed in numerous mainstage performances with the School of Dance, including Kitri in "Don Quixote," Princess Florine in "Sleeping Beauty," and Alejandro Cerrudo's "Second To Last," as well as many other original works by faculty and guest artists.
  • Performed in, and choreographed for, peer-directed performances.
  • Studied during the summer months with the Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet School, Utah Ballet Summer Intensive, and International Summer Program in Incheon, South Korea 

Hopes and plans for the coming year: Dance professionally in a ballet company, and continue to foster a supportive community, wherever I am. 

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Cayden Turnbow
Department of Film & Media Arts

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Majored in: Film and Media Arts

Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT

Three words that describe you: Leader, Motivated, Creative

Most impactful class or professor: I've had the privilege of taking Paul Larsen's screenwriting class for the last couple of years and have learned so much about how to take and give criticism, how to create a compelling story with interesting characters, and how to maintain self-discipline when writing longer form scripts. Paul Larsen without a doubt has been one of the most impactful professors while I've been at the U and I'll be sad to say goodbye when I graduate.

A CFA moment you’ll never forget: When Lee Isaac Chung visited campus I went to almost every single one of the events he attended and took scrupulous notes. It was his advice that inspired certain aspects of my capstone. He encouraged me to take risks and keep chasing my goals even when times get tough.

What inspires you: I find that it's the people closest to me that inspire me the most.

Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: I co-founded the Film Production Club and as its president produced and co-directed a short film titled "My Baby" which received a distribution award at the 2022 Spring Showcase. "Toothbrush" is another film that I directed that premiered alongside "My Baby" last year. I've received an Epics award through ADTHING (an advertising agency for which I am the current Video Director) for a commercial I made for Tacos Don Rafa. I've had the privilege of being an RA for the Fine Arts Floor, and a resident of the Fine Arts House. As an Emerging Leaders Intern, I helped organize the 9th annual ArtsForce Networking Event and had multiple articles published in the Finer Points Blog. Last summer I had an internship with Blank Space, a rewarding experience supported by the Utah Film Commission. Shortly after I joined Slamdance as an intern and worked up to managing the online festival in 2023.

Hopes and plans for the coming year: I hope to be able to continue to create, in whatever aspect that may be, as well as find a job that will be a stepping stone for my career in the film industry.

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Samuel Judd-Kim 
School of Music 

Pronouns: He/They

Majored in: HBA in Music and HBS in Philosophy

Hometown: Orem, Utah

Three words that describe you: Tenacious, authentic, disruptor

Most impactful class or professor: If I have to choose just one, it would be Dr. Pamela Jones, for picking up on and nurturing my enthusiasm for learning (both before and during the pandemic), mentoring me on the harpsichord, and directing me toward so many amazing opportunities! However, I would also like to recognize Dr. Ken Udy and Dr. Haruhito Miyagi for their generous support and wisdom.

A CFA moment you’ll never forget: Playing harpsichord continuo with the Utah Philharmonia on a few concerts; as a keyboardist, I always relish the chance to play with an orchestra. An honorable mention would be playing the Libby Gardner Concert Hall organ for the very first time.

What inspires you: All of the talented and visionary artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with; I’m incredibly lucky to have collaborated with so many driven musicians who motivate me to keep doing music.

Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:

  • Two solo organ recitals at the Cathedral of the Madeleine (Salt Lake City) in 2020 and 2022.
  • Original senior honors thesis: “Queering the Pipe Organ,” a musicology paper supervised by Dr. Haruhito Miyagi.
  • Many joyous collaborative performances on harpsichord and organ, with amazing flautists, harpists, strings, chamber groups, and orchestras.
  • With the College of Fine Arts advising team, assisted incoming Fine Arts students as a Create Success Intern
  • Helped found the University of Utah Asian Collective, which is working with the Office of EDI to create an Asian Cultural Center on campus and advocates for Asian and Asian-American communities on campus.
  • Created workshops on sexual violence prevention for queer students, students in Greek life at the U, and high school students, both as an intern at the Rape Recovery Center and as student staff at the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention.

Hopes and plans for the coming year: Taking a gap year to explore how to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve learned in the School of Music in an impactful way in my communities. I hope to eventually attend graduate school and build on the research in queer musicology I engaged in for my honors thesis, while always keeping sight of the reasons I do music!

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Abish Noble
Department of Theatre

Pronouns: She/They

Majored in: Theatre, Performing Arts Design Program with emphasis in Set Design; minor in Japanese

Hometown: Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, Japan

Three words that describe you: Passionate, Detail-Oriented, Overachiever 

Most impactful class or professor: Scenography Lab where I was so excited to assist in building the sets and I realized that I wanted to work in the design part of the theatre world.

A CFA moment you’ll never forget: In scenography lab, I painted a mechanical snake to be used in our production of Men on Boats. That was when Halee offered me a work-study position, and how I could work directly in the shop.

What inspires you: The ability to create amazing things with amazing people.

Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: Co-set designed the U’s first virtual production in 2020; The Night Witches. I also set designed Storm Still in 2021, and my work was featured in the CFA gala. I was the Scenic Charge Artist for Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience in 2021, and Liminal in 2022. I finished my college career with my set design of the new musical; In Pieces. I have also done some volunteer work off campus for the Utah Pride Festival. 

Hopes and plans for the coming year: I plan to continue to work in theatre here in Salt Lake, and hope to work full-time as a theatre technician. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

The 2023 Dean’s Choice Award  "The Holy Lies and Hidden Truth," a piece by student Rebecca Weber, has received the 2023 Dean's Choice Award.  This is the first piece in the Dean’s collection to feature embroidery on cloth medium. 

As Weber, an Art Teaching major in the University of Utah Department of Art and Art History describs her work, "'The Holy Lies and Hidden Truths' embroidery piece is intended to be a play on the notion that lies are kept behind the back. In this embroidery piece, the lies put forward by the figure are in the light and clear to see, in a way they are being honest and upfront about the lies that they are putting up. It is the truths, which they conceal behind their back, that they do not share with the audience." 

"Winning the Dean’s Award is surreal in many ways," Weber said. "To me, it feels very validating that my art could be seen and desired to be owned, or put into a place to be looked up to for years to come, especially as that art is in a traditional but underestimated medium –– embroidery –– and comes from an often overlooked sect of artists: an art teaching major." 

The piece is on view in the Gittins Gallery in the ART building, as part of the Student Art Exhibition through April 25. Go check it out! 

Published in Finer Points Blog

In March 2020, the Natural History Museum of Utah was in the middle of an immersive exhibition, “Nature All Around Us,” when the pandemic cut the run short by a few months. One part of the show was a multi-sensory installation entitled “Written on the Wind” by Associate Professor in Sculpture Intermedia in the Department of Art & Art HistoryWendy Wischer.

Now, “Nature All Around Us” is not only finding a second life – its reach is deeply expanding. And with it, Wischer’s installation. 

The modified exhibition is now open at the Science Museum of Minnesota and will run through January of next year. From there, the project will continue a lengthy tour at science and natural history museums nationwide. The Science Museum of Minnesota writes: “We often think of nature as a place untouched by humans, but nature is thriving right under our noses in cities and towns! Filled with immersive environments and hands-on interactives, 'Nature All Around Us' challenges the notion that urban and natural environments are separate and shows the many ways they are linked. We can make our world an even better place in which to live by discovering, celebrating, and conserving the nature we find in our own neighborhoods, all around us.”

“Written on the Wind” immerses visitors in nature using sound, projected video, and animation. Traveling through a 24-hour sequence in 24 minutes, the viewer takes a journey through the cycle of moving from light into darkness and darkness into light. Written on the Wind inside view 2photo Wendy Wischer

“This meditative installation attempts to capture fragments of how nature makes us feel, fragments of the joy and curiosity often felt when experiencing nature and the restorative effects this provides. A place where our stories are ‘written on the wind’ that circles the planet continuously and creates connective threads that weave a journey both individual and shared,” Wischer wrote.

There are many studies that show how the power of being in nature helps us with physical well-being, as well as improving our mental health. Climate change is an opportunity for us to re-evaluate our relationships with the natural world and connecting on an emotional level is a good place to start.

Published in Finer Points Blog

The College of Fine Arts is delighted to present the 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award to Comstock from the Department of Art & Art History.

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.

Comstock’s impressive accomplishments as an undergraduate researcher in the College of Fine Arts center around a commitment to creation of a body of work investigating applications of new materialism to contemporary ceramics.

In Comstock’s personal statement, they write about the impact research has had on their work as an artist, “As I was collecting my ideas and scholarly research in my thesis, every new piece I generated picked up a conceptual thread and grew upon it. I’ve found increased independence moving through my degree as a result, finding an ever-increasing clarity around a theoretical cache that all my work pulls from regardless of medium…. Everything has all become fodder within a holistic and immersive creative research process.”

Comstock presented their research titled “A Balmy Elsewhere: Manifesto for Restorative Materialism” at the 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium, and is submitting their Honors thesis in full to the Undergraduate Research Journal. Their work will also be exhibited Friday, April 22, 2022 at Studio Elevn in Salt Lake City. This summer, with support from the College of Fine Arts Dean’s Travel Fund, Comstock will present a performance piece in Berlin, Germany with artist collective Aktionskunst Park Gruppe.

In Their Own Words

Name: E.C. Comstock
Pronouns: Any Pronoun
Majors and minors: Art--Ceramics emphasis, Sculpture minor, Honors
Hometown: Boise, ID
Three words that describe you: amorphous, inquisitive, fraught
Most impactful class or professor: The most impactful class I had was Ceramic Surfaces, the level of experimentation Brian Snapp encouraged in Surfaces hugely expanded my practice and entirely shifted my approach to a far more holistic conception of form and surface. This class also introduced me to Skin: Surface, Substance + Design by Ellen Lupton which became a vital text in my thesis, and served as a formative period of bonding with my clay cohort.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I will never forget my first wood-firing, which was the first time I felt like I was part of something larger than myself in my program. The exchange and passing down of technical knowledge is so visible and tangible during the two-day long firing, and the sharing of food and music cements the community building that occurs while firing. 
What inspires you: I'm inspired by fringes and edges, the generative friction found when rich, differing substances meet one another or theoretical and practical approaches butt up. Bringing a lens of relational aesthetics to my everyday life has been a major source of inspiration, considering every action I make an art action and every material I handle a potential collaborator.
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: Outstanding Sculpture Student nomination, International Sculpture Center; Eccles Scholar (received Eccles full tuition scholarship through Honors College); Emma Eccles Jones Fine Arts Housing Scholarship, exhibited in Paper and Clay juried exhibition at Utah State University, Statewide Annual at the Rio Gallery, Aktionskunst Park Gruppe in Berlin, Germany; received Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program funding and a Small Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research. 

"As I was collecting my ideas and scholarly research in my thesis, every new piece I generated picked up a conceptual thread and grew upon it. I’ve found increased independence moving through my degree as a result, finding an ever-increasing clarity around a theoretical cache that all my work pulls from regardless of medium…. Everything has all become fodder within a holistic and immersive creative research process."

Published in Finer Points Blog

 The College of Fine Arts is delighted to present the 2022 Outstanding Seniors from each of our five academic units. These individuals were nominated for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. We are inspired by each of them, and look forward to witnessing the ways they continue to contribute to our community. We are honored to have shared their time here as students.

F22 Outstanding Seniors v22Alexandria Jensen
Department of Art & Art History

Pronouns: She/Her
Majored in: Art Teaching with K-12 Licensure
Hometown: Salt Lake City
Three words that describe you: Kind, Passionate, Creative
Most impactful class or professor: Beth Krensky really encouraged and inspired me throughout my time in the College of Fine Arts. The kindness and care that she radiates to all of her students is so important, and her passion for art education further reinforced my choice to be an art educator.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I really loved all of my studio courses throughout my time at the CFA. I was able to learn about and explore so many different mediums and develop a newfound passion for ceramics. I am really grateful to all my professors who encouraged me!
What inspires you: My students inspire me. Seeing them make discoveries and breakthroughs when exploring different artistic processes always inspires me to create and explore with my own artwork. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: I have accepted a position as the ceramics teacher at a school in the community I have been working with youth in for five years.

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Fiona Thomas

School of Dance

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Majored in: BFA in Modern Dance, Minor in Entrepreneurship 
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Three words that describe you: passionate, curious, tenderhearted
Most impactful class or professor: It feels impossible to choose the most impactful class or professor because each one has been such a tremendous part of my journey. I will say that Contemporary Views was the first class that helped me acknowledge my fears and accomplishments simultaneously. Understanding my worth and passion as an artist is the most valuable thing I have gained as a student. 
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: When I sang for Satu and Daniel's piece in the Fall Show, called 'remember everything that spring can bring (2020 Ballads)'
What inspires you: Being around others that care deeply about something, and knowing that art can make change. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:

  • Volunteered with Healing in Motion Dance in 2018 and 2019
  • Taught creative dance to youth at the Utah Refugee Center at the Meadowbrook Campus site in 2019 and 2020
  • During Covid, Fiona was based in Seattle and taught a variety of classes remotely at All That Dance and at Olympic Hills, a local elementary school
  • Fiona has been a part of faculty works with Eric Handman and Daniel Clifton as well as Graduate Thesis works with Alexandra Barbier and Jessica Boone"
  • Created a collaborative work with Lia Wong to be premiered at the Spring Student Concert in February of 2020
  • Fiona has been in numerous works by fellow peers and classmates in Senior shows, Student Concerts, and Graduate shows
  • Served on student concert committee in 2020 and 2021
  • Choreographed and performed a solo this spring that her and Daniel Clifton co-created the music for, titled 'To wonder is to live. And I am the wolf'
  • This semester, Fiona is interning with Heartland, a collective directed by Molly Heller

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Yein Ji
Department of Film & Media Arts

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Majored in: Film & Media Arts BFA
Hometown: North Salt Lake
Three words that describe you: Dependable, Intuitive, Ambitious
Most impactful class or professor: Sonia & Miriam Albert-Sobrino. They are always full of energy and passion for filmmaking. They always make me laugh and they’re incredibly knowledgeable. Everyone in the film department knows how amazing these women are. They inspire me to work harder and create beautiful art.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: The F&MAD Festival last spring. I got to watch and celebrate the films made by me and my talented friends. 
What inspires you: My family. They’ve always been supportive of everything I do. They’ve starred in some of my film projects and are always excited for my next creation. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off-campus:

  • Vice President of Film Production Club
  • 2021 Queer Spectra Arts Festival Intern
  • 2 Semesters of Undergraduate Research
  • Pretty Girl film published in Undergraduate Literary Magazine
  • Cheers films showcased at Utah Arts Festival
  • Helped create 34 films
  • Directed 8 films

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Merinda Christensen
School of Music

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Majored in: Instrumental Performance - Harp
Hometown: West Bountiful, UT
Three words that describe you: Outgoing, Ambitious, Compassionate
Most impactful class or professor: Dr. Cathy Clayton. Cathy has been my private harp instructor over the last 4 years and welcomed me with open arms when I made my transfer from the University of Arizona to Utah. She has always been so supportive as I have found my career path and I’m grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend studying under her while here at the U. 
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I had the most amazing opportunity to be an Emerging Leaders Intern for ArtsForce in the CFA that has really prepared and paved a path for me as I continue on with my career after graduation. The friendships and connections made while a part of ArtsForce is something I will always cherish after leaving the College of Fine Arts. 
What inspires you: I’m inspired by people that are passionate about what they do and work hard to accomplish their goals. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:

  • President for the School of Music Harp Ensemble: Harps at the U of U 2019 - 2022
  • ArtsForce intern for the CFA 2020 - 2021
  • Awarded Internship of the Year with ArtsForce from the Career and Professional Development Center 2021
  • First recipient of the Music Entrepreneurship Certificate from the University of Utah School of Music 2022
  • Marketing and Communications intern for UtahPresents at Kingsbury Hall 2021 - 2022
  • Event Chair and summer intern for Women’s Artistic Leadership Initiative 2020 - 2021
  • Crimson Mentor for transfer students at the University of Utah 2020 - 2021
  • Carmen Morton Christensen scholarship recipient 2018 - 2022
  • Program Assistant for THE BLOCKS: organization under the Downtown Alliance and SLC Chamber of Commerce, offered through my internship with ArtsForce
  • Director of Development for Opera Mississippi, offered through connections made while completing the Music Entrepreneurship Certificate

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Danny Borba
Department of Theatre​​

Pronouns: he/him/el
Majored in: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Emphasis: Actor Training Program; Minor: Ethnic Studies
Hometown: Orem, Ut
Three words that describe you: Respectful, Determined, Outgoing
Most impactful class or professor :  This one is a hard one! So I am mentioning a couple of things: 
Andra Harbold and her wisdom regarding directing has been something that continues to bring so much joy and light into my journey as an artist and a human.
Robert Scott Smith always pushes me to be better and innovate with the art.
Nathan Brian’s belief in me as a vocalist and an artist has helped me push through tough times.
Jerry Gardner has brought me peace and inspiration through Butoh and through my interactions with him.
Sarah Shippobotham amazes me continuously with the knowledge she imparts through Shakespeare or Dialects or text work. 
All of these professors and mentors (and plenty more) have pushed me to better, while also believed in me as an individual, and have encouraged me to make the theatre arts a place of inclusion and innovation. I will forever be grateful.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: My first ArtsBash, about 4 years ago. It was the first time performing as a U of U students, and also the first time seeing how wonderfully diverse and big the College is!
What inspires you: In a specific example, Viola Davis’ journey as an artist and a human has always given comfort and inspiration. But I also want to think about my family and God. Their support and their own stories have been critical in my growth as an artist, but also as a human being. Without them, and I mean ALL of them, I would not be who I am today, or doing what I do.
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: Not going to lie, being a part of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series was pretty amazing, and being able to intern at Pioneer Theatre was a major goal accomplished, but one thing that stands out was being able to create a BIPOC community with my friends and establish that we belong here and aren’t going anywhere has been a very important thing for me. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

In fall 2020 semester, University of Utah Department of Art & Art History Professor Al Denyer was awarded a Collections Engagement Grant ​to work on a group project with MFA students from her Graduate Critique class. These awards are part of “Landscape, Land Art and the American West,” a joint research and engagement initiative between the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Marriott Library supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and matching funds from the University. Denyer and her students conducted research using material from ​the UMFA and Marriott Library ​Special Collections, to explore what “A Sense of Place” means in historical and individual contexts.

Through research in library archives, museum collections, and in our their artmaking studios, they examined how artists from the past portrayed and created their identities in reaction to their environment and contributed to a contemporary artistic and cultural inheritance. An internal awareness of the struggle and vulnerability it takes to share our relationship to the west has led to the creation of works exploring these boundaries. The works that have emerged from this examination ask viewers to reevaluate their own connections to eroding narratives embedded in Place, and identify with a sense of belonging.

Featured Artists: Tess Wood, Eric Robertson, Christina Riccio, Holly Nielsen, Bryce Billings, Candace von Hoffman, Reilly Jensen, Hannah Nielsen, & Al Denyer

A Sense of Place
 Now open in the Gittins Gallery! 
Feburuary 22 - March 4

Read more about the project

Published in Finer Points Blog

Please join us for a special evening featuring Warnock Visiting Artist Clarissa Tossin!

Thursday, February 24 
5:30 - 7:15P 
(5:30-6:30P Lecture, 6:30-7:15P Reception) 
*Gallery will open 30 minutes prior to lecture for guests to view Tossin's exhibition piece 
Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Auditorium 
Utah Museum of Fine Arts


Los Angeles-based Brazilian artist Clarissa Tossin uses moving-image, installation, sculpture, and collaborative research to engage the suppressed counter-narratives implicit in the built environment and explore alternate narratives that come to define a place. She received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2009 and BFA at Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado, São Paulo, in 2000. 

Recent solo exhibitions have been held at La Kunsthalle Mulhouse, France (2021); Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Cambridge (2019); 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (2019); Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo (2018); Blanton Museum of Art, Austin (2018); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2017); and Wesleyan University, Middletown (2017). Selected group exhibitions have been held at the Denver Art Museum (2021); Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2021); MASS MoCA, North Adams (2020); Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2020); New Orleans Museum of Art (2020); SESC Pompéia, São Paulo (2020); Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge (2019); Luhring Augustine, New York (2019); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2018); 12th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2018); KADIST, San Francisco (2017); and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2017). 

Tossin is the recipient of a Graham Foundation Grant (2020), an Andy Warhol Foundation Grant (2020), a Foundation for Contemporary Art Grant (2019), an Artadia Los Angeles Award (2018), a Fellows of Contemporary Art Fellowship (2019), and a California Community Foundation Fellowship (2014). She has been in residency at LABVERDE Art Immersion Program (2019), 18th Street Arts Center (2019), Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2017-18), Fundação Joaquim Nabuco (2015), Artpace San Antonio (2013) and Core Program at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2010-12).

Tossin’s work is currently on view in The 8th Continent, a solo exhibition at Brochstein Pavilion, Rice University, Houston; ReVisión at the Denver Art Museum and Kissing Through a Curtain at MassMOCA. Upcoming solo exhibitions will be held at Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, opening June 3, 2022; Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (EMPAC), opening September 9, 2022; and Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, opening November 2022.

Marva and John Warnock biennial Artist in Residence program through the University of Utah Department of Art & History has been established as an important catalyst for dialogue encompassing contemporary issues of art-making, pedagogy, interdisciplinary and collaborative work, art in the community, and art as activism. The program aims to expose students to new, innovative, and diverse contemporary art practices while providing an opportunity for trilateral exchange amongst students, faculty, and the public at large. The artist-in-residence will lead a master class that takes the form of intensive workshops throughout the semester.

IMAGE CREDIT:  Clarissa Tossin, Ch'u Mayaa, 2017 (digital video still)
Choreography/Performer: Crystal Sepúlveda
Cinematography: Jeremy Glaholt
Commissioned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs for the exhibition Condemned to be Modern as part of Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time:LA/LA.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Each year, Utah’s governor honors three visual artists and three performance artists with the Governor's Mansion Artist Award. The College of Fine Arts is elated to share that V. Kim Martinez, Department of Art & Art History Chair, is one of the selected artists for 2021. Awardees were selected by Governor Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox, from a group of nominees submitted by the Governor’s Mansion Artist Awards Committee. 


“Receiving The Utah Governor’s Mansion Visual Artist Award is a reinforcement of my ideals of art as a vehicle for social change. Art has massive power to incite people to find connections to act on the challenges we face by identifying with one another across social, political, gender, and racial lines.” 
-V. Kim Martinez

The 2021 award winners include: 

  • Ta’u Pupu’a, opera tenor
  • Elsie Holiday, master Navajo basket weaver.
  • Diane Stewart, owner of Modern West Fine Art, benefactor
  • V. Kim Martinez, muralist, professor and community activist
  • Jack Ashton, violinist, director of Young Artist Chamber Players, educator
  • Camille and Alicia Washington, founders of Good Company Theatre
  • Fidalis Beuhler, painter, professor

PBS Utah is producing a documentary series about the honored artists to air in the spring of 2022. 

Here is a bit more about V. Kim Martinez, shared from the Governor's Mansion Artist Awards program: 
martinez MansionProgram

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. 

Meekyung MacMurdie is a historian of Islamic art and architecture, with a focus on manuscripts. Her interests include aesthetics and artistic practice, the creation and transmission of knowledge, cultural encounters and exchanges in the medieval world, and historiography. She is currently at work on her first book, which investigates the ontological status and evidentiary stakes of pictures, diagrams, and tables in Arabic scientific and medical works produced in the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. Positioning geometry as a meeting ground between the philosophical and applied arts, the book theorizes the historical significance of facture, while also exploring the mutability of viewers’ reception of visual forms. The project reframes questions about ornament, abstraction, and style in terms of cognition and reasoning in a pivotal period: following the Islamicate reception of late antique forms and preceding early modern articulations of motifs. In addition to research on premodern topics, MacMurdie is collaborating with Jesse Lockard, a historian of post-war architecture, on a project that examines the formative years of the discipline, when—they argue— art history methods were entwined with artisanal tools. The study positions pattern books as a bridge between critical historiography and material object studies, as well as (problematic) early articulations of global art history. MacMurdie received her PhD in art history from the University of Chicago (2020). Before joining the University of Utah for the fall semester in 2021, she is completing the current academic year at the University of Bern as a post-doctoral fellow in the European Research Council-funded "Global Horizons in Pre-Modern Art" research group.

What were your initial career ambitions when you started your undergraduate studies?

I had a pretty firm idea that I wanted to study history of some sort. I was one of those odd children who was always reading lots of history books. It was really a broader interest in narrative, and storytelling, and communication. Then, as I was going into college, I was also interested in political science, and the intersection between history and real-world stakes. I had never taken art history until I got to college, but I did have one history teacher in high school that would bring in images. I specifically remember this famous painting, "Napoleon Crossing the Alps."

As an undergrad, I got to take an art history class and sort of see what it was about – and it was really exciting to me. There was this whole new world of visual material evidence that we can think about when working as a historian. In terms of having a clear career or path, I don’t think I ever really had one actually. I was just following my interests and seeing where it took me. But I felt somehow confident that it would emerge.

Who were some early mentors?

I’ve been extremely lucky during my academic training to have had really excellent mentorship, particularly female mentorship. Even as an undergraduate, I had a professor, Lynda Sexson, whose classes were really engaging and theoretical. I think I took everything she taught. As I progressed through the program, I had opportunities to do research projects with her, too. She had a way of teaching that blended critical thinking with imagination. I think those two things are inseparable, actually. That was a fantastic model.

In grad school, likewise, I had excellent mentors who – I don’t know how they did it – but they intuited what I needed when, helping me find my weaknesses and develop them into strengths.

Curiosity is not just this innate thing. It requires labor – it’s actually a skill. So, I would say train your curiosity, and ask questions.

What drew you to Islamic Art and architecture? How has your area of specialization evolved over time?

When I started graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, I originally thought I was going to work on early modern botanical and scientific prints. I was interested in landscaping as material practice and the production of knowledge and artistic practice. As I was going through the program, I was starting my master’s thesis working on a French botanist traveling to the Middle East recording observations and collecting samples. During that process, I started thinking, “What is the other side? What is the knowledge that is being produced there? What would botany have looked like for someone in the early 18th century Ottoman Empire, for example?” From there, I started looking at things and reading, and I had tons of questions and it didn’t seem like there were many answers. So, I decided to switch programs.

My advisor at Wisconsin, Jill Casid, was incredibly supportive and helped me apply and think about how my study would work. I remember her telling me, after my acceptance came in, that I should go wherever I would be supported to do my best work. That’s something that has really stuck with me. We are getting into this because we are curious and because there is pleasure in it, but we also want to do our best work. That is what led me to Chicago, and to studying there as an Islamicist.

I was going to ask, what goes into choosing a graduate program?

Support in the broadest sense – which means things like opportunities to take languages, funding packages, who your peers and faculty will be. These are people who you will learn a lot from as you go through. Also it means things like, “Is this a city I can live in?”

And how did your goals change once you were in grad school?

I don’t mean to convey that I am not an organized planner. I seem to be in every other aspect of my life except for my academic work. Even as a grad student, I didn’t have a firm idea. Or another way to put it is that the market is so competitive that you are trying to gain as many skills as possible. I certainly tried to diversify myself with different kinds of experiences: museum work, academic teaching. I didn’t think about what the career really meant until very late in the PhD. I did a lot of preparation for all sorts of different paths. I was waiting for things to unfold.

Can you tell us a bit about the projects you are currently working on?

There are a couple big projects that are in the works. The first is a book project on 12th and 13th century Islamic, and particularly Arabic, tables, diagrams, and pictures. And the second is a collaborative project I’m working on with Jesse Lockard, who is a historian currently at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz. We have been friends and colleagues for a very long time. We were in graduate school together.

I love to collaborate. I love learning from people. Most of my meaningful collaborations have developed over longer periods of time in the sense that they are rooted in longer conversations about different subjects. Jesse teaches architecture and architecture theory. I am an Islamicist. We were both, at the time, teaching courses where we were talking about Owen Jones’ "The Grammar of Ornament," but for very different reasons. We really sort of stumbled into this project that now seems to be about everything and may result in a book. Right now, we are working on an article together.

We have many early attempts at what today we would call a global art history. And, I think you could argue that pattern books are one of these early attempts. But they are rife with colonialism, imperialism, and really problematic categories and ways of thinking cross-culturally. One of the main questions we are really interested in is whether these kinds of problematic archives still have purchase – whether we can use them as an entry way into making a better art history that is more inclusive, more encompassing, that asks better questions. Or, whether those problematic archives should be tossed out and we need to start again. I think that is a question that resonates with scholars in many fields. I think it resonates socially at large. It’s been really interesting in this project with her, thinking about this, because at this point I don’t have an answer to that question.

What about your recent experience at University of Bern?

I spent three years at the University of Bern, particularly as part of a European Research Council-funded project called “Global Horizons.” It was about pre-modern art generally. It was a really exciting opportunity. I worked with brilliant scholars. The project was spearheaded by Beate Fricke. What was so exciting and unique about it was that we had opportunities not just to meet and workshop papers, but also to travel together and to actually go see art. For example, we were in Japan before the pandemic hit with Kris Kersey, who is a fantastic scholar of medieval Japanese art, taking us to Tokyo and Nara. It was an incredibly rich, stimulating, intellectual environment. For me, it’s been a real model for thinking outside the box about how collaboration can work.

What advice do you have for undergraduates studying art history as they figure out what next steps to take?

A couple things. The first is really to be curious. It sounds really cliché but it’s true. Curiosity is not just this innate thing. It requires labor – it’s actually a skill. So I would say train your curiosity, and ask questions.

And then, also, read. Read a lot. Lots of different kinds of things. The craft of the art historian, when it comes down to what is finally produced, is the craft of writing. And reading will help with writing.

What advice do you have about publishing, in particular?

There are a lot of debates about academic publishing now. The fact is, there are a lot of different kinds of venues to publish your work. In many ways it is driven by the work itself – what it is you want to say, and how you want to say it. So, think broadly about what kinds of venues, what kinds of publishers – who do you want to have access?

It can sometimes be really intimidating, and there can be bureaucracies associated with it. So really think about your reader. As a student, your audience is oftentimes your faculty. But, if you expand how you think about your audience and who you want to reach, I think that really helps shape what direction you go with the writing.

Published in Finer Points Blog
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