Displaying items by tag: UMFA

In anticipation of the opening of Utah Museum of Fine Art's "Space Maker" on August 21st, we caught up with Department of Art & Art History alumna Nancy Rivera, curator of the exhibition which features 33 artists from the department's faculty. 

As UMFA describes, " 'Space Maker' explores the tensions, histories, and myths that shape our experiences of the world. These works, created by a variety of artists in a dynamic range of media, question the bonds between place and identity, reflect on our relationships to the land, and explore the realities that emerge when an imaginary world is created."

Let's take a closer look at the show. 

After a year of isolation, what was it like to come back together on a group show of this size? 

What was really cool about curating the exhibition was that when I started looking at the work that the artists produced over the last year or so, it was apparent that everyone was impacted and influenced by some of the same issues. Even though their work is created in such different ways – the materials they use are so different –  the ideas and concepts that you see throughout the work started to become a narrative that you could connect to and say, “I felt that same way during the pandemic."
It was interesting to see that in some ways, even though we are isolated, those communal experiences are still very present. We all see the things that we experience in a similar manner. 

It’s amazing to see that your professors, the people you are learning from and interacting with now in such a big way, are creating such elevated work. It’s something that they should feel inspired by and really proud of – that we have this type of talent within the University of Utah. I really hope students will go and see the show.

How did the "Space Maker" theme emerge and what do those words mean to you?

A lot of the work the artists created very much explored the idea of place – how we relate to it, how we engage with it, how we perceive it. We were forced to be confined in our homes, and were hyper-aware of the things that surround us – and as artists you tend to look at things through a different lens. So they created, in their own way, an interpretation of the spaces they were in, or really thinking about, or even missing and grieving throughout this pandemic. I think it's something you can apply to a lot of the work.

I also wanted to create an idea to view the show in a way that was broad enough that you could find different types of interpretations, because we have 33 artists. The work that they produce is so varied in process and concept.  Looking at it through this lens of thinking about space, and their creation of it, is something that everybody can say they think about through their work. Every one of the artists is working with very specific ideas and themes their work is connected to, but in the end, I think there is an overarching idea of a sensibility towards space that connects them all.

What was the logistical process like? 

Coordinating all of this is such a big team project, and I could not have done any of this without the UMFA’s amazing staff support. They have this down. All of the artists were invited to submit up to three works, and then I selected the ones I wanted to include in the exhibition.  And there were discussions around “how does this fit the theme?” Nancy Rivera headshotNancy Rivera, "Space Maker" curator and U alum

When I first started selecting works, I wasn’t thinking about an overall theme. The theme came to me as the work was selected and I was looking through artist statements and titles, and information about each of the works. It was more about selecting the best works aesthetically – the craft and the concept. Everybody is so talented. In the end, the decision of what works were included was very intuitive, selecting work that was representative of each of those artist’s careers but that also spoke to a sensibility for the times that we are living in.

There are some great moments in the exhibition of really unexpected materials. And, also how artists took this moment of being isolated, not being able to enter certain spaces, and took that as an inspiration to create. Sometimes I think that without having had something so profound happen to us, some of those ideas would not have emerged. Much of the work was made in the past year or two, and a majority was created during the pandemic. To see the way that they were inspired to create in that period of time was amazing. These are artists whose work I am really familiar with from my time being their student and even before that. So it's been great to see how their work continues to grow.

What is it like to work with the faculty, now as an alum?

It's such a different dynamic. I still look up to a lot of them, and I am so honored to be able to work with them as a curator, in a way that i never expected. I am grateful for the way that they have embraced my role in the exhibition. It has been great to have one-on-one conversations and brainstorms with them about their work. 

And why should students go to "Space Maker?"

It’s amazing to see that your professors, the people you are learning from and interacting with now in such a big way, are creating such elevated work. It’s something that they should feel inspired by and really proud of – that we have this type of talent within the University of Utah. I really hope students will go and see the show.

We can't wait to see the work from these 33 wonderful artists: 

Edward Bateman
Simon Blundell
Laurel Caryn 
Erika Cespedes
Lewis J. Crawford
Al Denyer
Elizabeth DeWitte
John Erickson 
Haynes Goodsell
Joshua Graham
Michael Hirshon
Trishelle Jeffery
Lenka Konopasek
Beth Krensky
Naomi Marine
V. Kim Martinez 
Kylie Millward
Martin Novak 
Marnie Powers-Torrey
Andrew Rice
Vanessa Romo
Sylvia Ramachandran Skeen
Brian Snapp 
Carol Sogard
Paul Stout
Natalie Oliver Strathman
Amy Thompson
Emily Tipps
Maureen O’Hara Ure
Adam Watkins
Moses Williams
Wendy Wischer
Jaclyn Wright

"Space Maker" runs from August 21 to December 5, 2021. For more information, please visit https://umfa.utah.edu/space-maker.
Remember, students get in FREE thanks to Arts Pass! 

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Published in Finer Points Blog

During the month of February four College of Fine Arts students, Kristen Bennet (Photography), James Hadley (Printmaking), Christina Jones (Art History) and Laurie Larson (Film & Media Arts), were among six University of Utah students selected to help install a new UMFA acquisition by Conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. Students worked closely with Roland Lusk, draftsperson from the Estate of Sol LeWitt, who coordinated the project.

Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 33 (1970) installation process is very unique, employing non-museum staff to draw directly on the gallery wall per LeWitt’s instructions—the essence of his works. The students have been working daily throughout February to complete the installation in time for the February 27 talk with Veronica Roberts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin.

Roberts will share insights into the work of pioneering Conceptual artist Sol LeWitt,  highlighting the installation of a new acquisition of LeWitt’s work, Wall Drawing #33 (1970), at the UMFA. Wall Drawing 33, a pioneering work of Conceptual art, will remain on view for approximately five years in UMFA’s modern and contemporary gallery.

Art & Art History student Christina Jones spoke about her once in a lifetime experience during the past month of install:
“As an Art History major, I've learned about how rare the opportunity is to get to work on one of LeWitt's unique wall drawings, so I was elated when I learned that I had been selected as one of the student drafters for Wall Drawing #33. That excitement stuck with me each time I returned to the museum to draw, but I never expected the physical process to become such a meditative experience for me. When I would tell people that I was drawing precisely measured lines within individual one-inch squares for hours on end, I was met with several questions about whether it got boring or repetitive. But on the contrary, the instructional aspect of the drawing caused me to be calmly aware of the composition of both each individual square and the 10x10' grid as a whole. I'm delighted and honored to had the opportunity to contribute to LeWitt's conceptual legacy, and find it inspiring that this artwork truly exemplifies the creation of an experience.”

Curator Veronica Roberts on Sol LeWitt
WHEN 3/27 at 7P 
WHERE Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Auditorium | UMFA
TICKETS This is a free event 

Published in Finer Points Blog

The University of Utah campus is full of incredible arts events, some of which are FREE to U of U students with their ARTS PASS (Ucard). We know how over whelming it can be to fit anything other than homework into your busy schedule, so we have put a highlight list of free arts events on campus that you do NOT want to miss out on. Take a look and enjoy the arts on campus this Spring!


School of Dance
La Fille Mal Gardée
Feb 7 – Feb 16
The School of Dance proudly presents "La Fille Mal Gardée," a full length comedic ballet gracing the Marriott Center for Dance Stage February 7th – 16th. The School will present a new interpretation of the classic French ballet created by Bruce Marks, former Artistic Director of Ballet West, whose choreography breathes new life into the classic story.

Film & Media Arts Department
Spring Showcase
May 4
Join the Film & Media Arts Department for a free screening of handpicked student films, filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions, displays of amazing media arts projects, installations, animations, experimental films, and more!

School of Music
Lyric Opera Ensemble: Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites with the Utah Philharmonia
April 19 - 20
Set during the French Revolution, Dialogues des Carmélites explores religious devotion and self-sacrifice through the harrowing story of Blanche de la Force, a shy, young aristocratic woman who joins the Carmelite Order to escape the violence of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. With a gorgeous score, Poulenc’s opera is one of the most significant works of the 20th century. This dramatic and powerful tour-de-force, based on a true story, explores faith and redemption, fate and sacrifice.

Department of Theatre
February 15 - March 3
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, originally produced and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince. Centering on Bobby, a confirmed bachelor celebrating his 35th birthday with his 10 closest friends (who also happen to be five couples), Company culminates in Bobby’s transformation from unattached swinger to tentative monogamist. Company, Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking modern musical, is a mature, intelligent, and wildly funny look at relationships, vulnerability, and “being alive.” The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six.


Feb 15 – Mar 2
This Sundance film-turned-Broadway-hit is about the romance between an Irish street musician and the young Czech woman, also a musician, he meets on the streets of Dublin. A tender story between two people who fall in love over a shared passion for music, Once features unforgettable songs which garnered both Tony and Academy awards; come see a talented cast who will sing and play all the musical instruments in the show, on stage! Contains strong language.


Valentine’s Evening at UMFA
February 14
Choose UMFA as your romantic getaway and make art a part of your evening together. Enjoy libations and hors d’oeuvres, peruse the galleries, and listen to a sultry selection of music from the Univeristy of Utah Red Hots in the G.W. Anderson Family Great Hall. For an additional fee, you may tour the galleries with award-winning curator of European, American, and regional art Leslie Anderson for “Conscious Coupling: Scenes of Romance in the UMFA’s Collection,” beginning at 6:30 pm. Please select the tour option when purchasing tickets to secure your spot; tour is limited to 30 guests. 


Complexions Contemporary Ballet From Bach to Bowie
April 5
Combining technical precision, power, and passion, Complexions Contemporary Ballet transcends tradition in a groundbreaking mix of styles ranging from ballet to hip hop. Founded by former members of Alvin Ailey, Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, the company has been featured several times on the hit show So You Think You Can Dance. This season, the company performs an exhilarating program full of glitter and glam featuring Star Dust, an “utterly transfixing” tribute to the life and music of David Bowie.


Want more free or nearly free access to arts events? Stay in the know by following our Arts Pass social media outlets and never miss an arts event again! Instgram, Facebook and Twitter


Published in Finer Points Blog

By Marina Gomberg

During good times and bad, many turn to the arts for solace, inspiration, levity, and hope. That’s why, during this extended government shutdown, the arts entities at the University of Utah are offering furloughed federal employees free access to the arts on campus for the duration of the shutdown.

“As a community of artists, we recognize and appreciate our important role in supporting our communities and meeting them where they are,” said John W. Scheib, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for the Arts at the U and Dean of the College of Fine Arts. “We hope that in our theatres, halls and galleries, our proud friends can experience the joy and creativity the arts can so uniquely and powerfully provide.”

Below are the ways federal furloughed employees can enjoy arts experiences with us for free.

Pioneer Theatre Company
Pioneer Theatre Company is offering federal employees affected by the current government shutdown two free tickets to the three remaining performances of their current production, The Lion in Winter. Call (801-581-6961) or visit the Box Office (Open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon. – Fri.). Visit www.pioneertheatre.org for more information on the show. Employees who present a federal ID or federal pay stub at the box office window may receive up to two tickets for one of the remaining three performances. Quantity is limited; tickets are available on a first come, first served basis. We encourage picking up tickets ahead of time, if possible. This offer is not retroactive to previously purchased tickets.

School of Dance
The School of Dance is offering four free tickets to any upcoming performance during the shutdown. See the upcoming events list here. Then call 801-581-7100 or visit the Kingsbury Hall box office and identify yourself as a federal employee to receive your tickets.

School of Music
The School of Music is offering four free tickets to any upcoming performance during the shutdown. See the upcoming events list here. Then call 801-581-7100 or visit the Kingsbury Hall box office and identify yourself as a federal employee to receive your tickets.

Utah Museum of Fine Arts
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) is offering free admission to furloughed federal employees for the duration of the shutdown. Federal workers are asked to identify themselves at the UMFA welcome desk. For Museum hours, directions, and more information, please visit here.

Four free tickets to all furloughed employees to any remaining performance on the UtahPresents season (excluding Banff Film Festival and At the Illusionist’s Table). See the upcoming events list here. Then call 801-581-7100 or visit the Kingsbury Hall box office and identify yourself as a federal employee to receive your tickets.


Published in Finer Points Blog

Written by Allison Pinegar.

Whitney Tassie is the curator of modern and contemporary art at the UMFA and the woman behind the upcoming exhibition A Fuller Picture: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collection for the UMFA’s reopening on August 26, 2017. In preparation for the all-women show, The Finer Points will be highlighting female artists from the UMFA’s collection, the state of Utah, and the University of Utah.

In 2015 Art News reported the statistics of female representation in the art world. The statistics are staggering, revealing that despite recent efforts of art institutions, there is still significant bias. Maura Reilly’s article is partly what inspired Whitney Tassie, the UMFA’s curator of modern and contemporary art, to curate an all-women show for the museum’s reopening in August. “When you see the numbers it’s shocking. The arts are not a particularly stat-heavy industry, it’s fairly unregulated. But when someone takes the time to do that it’s very telling,” Tassie explains. And she’s not wrong – in April 2015 only 7% of the works on display from their permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art were by women. Reilly’s call to “right the balance” is not off base nor petty.

Tassie’s exhibition, A Fuller Picture: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collection will showcase works by female artists from the UMFA’s permanent collection, including both local, national and international artists. Works by names like Yayoi Kusama, Anna Campbell Bliss, Helen Frankenthaler, Jann Haworth, and a new Faith Ringgold acquisition will be on display for two years. The Kusama and Frankenthaler pieces were the first two works Tassie knew needed to be displayed in the new gallery space. From there, she began to consider how these various artists expand the definitions of movements like abstract expressionism, minimalism, and pop art, but also how some of these women defy those categories, complicating the traditional art historical narrative.

While shows featuring only women are gaining popularity, they are still problematic in some sense. “It is a problem that we’ve only seen these women in all-women group shows. Let’s talk about that,” Tassie presses. “It opens myself and the museum up for criticism, but in doing that we start a dialogue and we can talk about the history of exhibitions and of representation of women artists in museum collections.” Acknowledging the “baggage” that comes with doing a show like this offers opportunities for visitors to really consider the role of the museum. To further emphasize these issues, the exhibition will include a reading nook where visitors can learn more about the history of women in the art world and the statistics that prompted Tassie to curate A Fuller Picture.

The UMFA seeks to be a place of inclusion and scholarship, as well as to provide compelling, relevant, and insightful exhibitions for the University and local community. These goals were upheld in the remodel. “The changes we’re making in how visitors engage with the art and the Museum’s unique spaces will make the UMFA more relevant than ever in the lives of our audiences,” UMFA executive director, Gretchen Dietrich said in an April press release. A Fuller Picture encompasses these goals, offering space for patrons to consider why art museums own more art made by men than women, and what it means to be a woman. Tassie states, “I am grateful that the museum can be a platform for these conversations that are feeling ever-more urgent today – a renewed urgency, anyway – to talk about feminism and to try to dispel some of the myths or paint a more inclusive picture of feminism or art history.”

Be sure to catch A Fuller Picture: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collection when the UMFA reopens to the public on August 26, 2017. The reopening will include a two-day celebration featuring talks, tours, films, a dance part and more! For additional information about the UMFA, visit UMFA.

Published in Finer Points Blog