IN EARLY 2020 THE FUTURE LOOKED BRIGHT. I was truly excited to work, travel, and meet new people. My days at the University of Utah were coming to an end. The old me was coming to an end. News coverage of the novel coronavirus grew darker by the day while my personal plans became more ambitious. A ripe summer was to be spent in some far off city. I was to grow, to “find myself.” My friends and I laughed about the digitally rendered images of the external morphology of the coronavirus while we waited anxiously to hear back about internships. Soon we waited instead to hear if the university would cancel in person classes, if our governor would announce a state of emergency, if it was safe to go outside. We now approach another summer and I feel a similar sense of hope. As is the case with all things, I am coming to understand, hope is complicated. I am both desperate to move on, and afraid to forget what I’ve learned this past year. Structural issues in our society remain intact, and in many cases worsened. A single individual must be cognizant of this, but also find the ability to dance sometimes. The artists in this book give me hope. Looking at their work, I see the human capacity for beauty, humor, sensuality, reverence, and reflection. We’ve all learned so much at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah. Let’s celebrate that, and continue to strive for knowledge as we move forward with our lives.
-Ruby Barrett, March 28, 2021
Emphasis: Photography major, Art History & Books Arts Minors
Statement: The camera is always watching, its capacity to observe is unbounded, and thus has been and still is used to surveil. With its images it manipulates the viewer, drawing out their innermost desires and exploiting such. A gaze of some sort is always present within a photograph, which I attempt to explore and play off of within my own image-making. My work references the medium itself — photography — and asks the viewer to consider the presence of the lens in our daily lives. I feel aesthetically inspired by film noir stills, vintage advertisements, and old Hollywood glamour. As such, I seek to create narrative and highly fabricated spaces that are difficult to place in any time or reality. My work calls upon imagery from past eras but simultaneously uses such imagery to comment on the present moment — pulling the viewer from present to past and back again.
Emphasis: Sculpture Intermedia
Statement: I cycle in and out of “material romances”; seeking materials to form relationships with and allowing them to persuade my direction. As if it were the tango, a push and pull between my needs and that of the material is established. Often my work feels like being a contemporary anthropologist. When I want to know about myself and the community, I look at the materials frequently purchased, endorsed, and interacted with. I am most attracted to mass-produced consumer goods, finding that what we endlessly reproduce radiates the aura of the makers and consumers. I find the most history in products of daily use; those that are used, consumed, and disposed of read like newspaper of who brings such materials into and out of existence so quickly. When searching for explorations, I probe supermarkets and gas stations, thrift stores, and my kitchen, pining for materials I want to understand differently. I know that a material intriguing enough to enchant me for months possesses within it a body of work. I especially gravitate towards materials that go into, used in relation to, or in replacement of the body. Products that touch, help, or integrate with our bodies create intimate acts that yield the potential to shape how we think about ourselves. My work frequents a view of a narcissistic consumption. The act of consumption is abundantly personal and self-motivated, and as such, I turn to my own experiences for insight. I find that to work within the contemporary idiom is to be present with your surroundings, and to pursue resulting ideas full-heartedly based upon your own individual perspective. I digest my material environment and allow for shameless outward expression.
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: In Bethany’s design practice she finds fun and joyful solutions while bringing her designs to life. She considers herself a maker in many mediums but has a deep love for design. She is inspired by photography, architecture, nature, bookmaking and anything with crazy colors. Graduating in Spring.
Casidy Ann Giles
Emphasis: Painting & Drawing
Statement: My name is Casidy Giles, I got my AFA degree in 2017 at Spokane Falls Community College, took a year off, and then started at the U to get my BFA with a Painting/Drawing emphasis. I’ll be graduating at the end of this semester (Spring 2021), and so far, have no idea what I’m doing career wise. I mostly have focused on figurative works for the past 2 years, but do occasionally create work with detailed cityscapes in them. What advice would I have given freshmen me? It’s tough to say, but I’ve come to learn over the years that you can’t force passion. If you try to force your passion for art and creativity, you will not be happy with how your work turns out, and you’ll experience burn out very quickly. If you’re not feeling passionate, it’s okay to take a break and solely focus on technical aspects of art making, and until you feel a creative spark, just focus on things you enjoy until your battery has recharged. It all works out in the end one way or another.
Emphasis: Painting & Drawing major, Sculpture Intermedia minor
Statement: Abused—I referred to Brutalist architecture in making this piece because the architectural movement was used in the U.K.’s Great Depression; concrete is inexpensive and strong. I use my legs to support myself, so like a structure they are strong enough to keep me standing upright. Emotionally and financially poor, I poured concrete into an alginate life-casted mold to recreate my poor state; what happens when your structure and grounding is abused- from yourself and from others? Mind Block—Mind Blocking is a coping mechanism for trauma or those with PTSD. It is to block yourself from going into a spiral of traumatic memories or thoughts that are harmful/ debilitating. This is a tool that can be used for harmful memories or thoughts that don’t have to deal with trauma as well.
Emphasis: Photography major, Book Arts minor
Statement: Identity is used to separate specific identities into their own sphere of art (specifically marginalized identities) and excuses art that disregards identity (usually relying on privilege.) I am primarily concerned with myself as a multiplicity of existences, as well as the inability to identify, live within, and connect to any of these existences. My existence as my body, but also a virtual body in virtual worlds, a small name on texts, and art I create. I am the me that is the real body, the me that is a digital identity, and the me that is proxy through data labor. But also none of these are me and every portion is replaceable. I am a meta-original, so why can’t I just find a different piece that fits? Or make another 3D print if this one fails? My artmaking practice is an attempt to codify myself and create ground for me to stand on that is beholden to nobody else but me.
Emphasis: Ceramics major, Sculpture Intermedia minor
Statement: Over and over again I find my mind wandering through a different world. A world created by myself yet I seem to have little to no control over. I am constantly lost in my memories and experiences of the past or the excitement and worries of the future. I have fallen in love with romanticizing different times in my past and future and tend to gravitate to things that have a nostalgia to them. Our memories are rarely accurate and often morph over time leaving things in disarray. Lately my work has been leaning in to the dreamstate I fall into and expressing the feelings it creates. I have always been a tactile person. Growing up I never wanted to wear socks, I loved eating food with my hands, and finger painting. I believe that is why I love working mainly in ceramic. I can connect with the material in a way I can’t with a lot of other mediums.
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: I didn’t know who I wanted to be until I entered the graphic design program at the University of Utah. I remember my first class and my teacher said “if you don’t have a love for typography, you probably shouldn’t be here.” I didn’t even know what typography was at the time. Four years have gone by and I can tell you I don’t just have love for typography and design, it’s who I am. My time in this program has been unforgettable. The thing I loved most about this program was my teachers and classmates, Its been such a privilege to learn and work with these amazing designers and I cant wait to see what the future holds.
Emphasis: Photography/Digital Imaging
Statement: Stolen Sisters—Native American history isn’t talked about enough, and many don’t know of MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women). Indigenous women are ten times more likely to be murdered than the average rate in the country, and people don’t know. These women have no identity because our justice system hasn’t done enough for them. Because of this, no one knows about the problems these women face. I can’t speak for all minority groups, however, I think it’s important this issue’s talked about. These are women who aren’t just people living on the reservations, but they’re women that’re still part of this nation. They deserve the same respect and justice as any other person living here. In this work, I use found images, audio/video that I’ve made to bring awareness to the MMIW.
Emphasis: Painting & Drawing major, Printmaking minor
Statement: I view art as a form of vulnerable communication, purposefully and perpetually incomplete until there is an audience to perceive it. My art explores the psychological aspects of the feminine experience, imposter syndrome, and the growing pains of early adulthood.
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: My name is Jesse Smith, and I am originally from Park City, Utah. I didn’t always think that graphic design would be my major, or anything art related. Although I have always been fascinated with the art world and what it involves, I just never felt that there would be a place for me. Quite honestly I did not fully understand what graphic design truly entailed. Pam Beesly said returning home from a graphic design program, “It’s just designing logos and stuff.” I just figured I would make my way with designing logos. It was not until our first class with Dan Evans, that I truly understood what all went into the world of graphic design. Now I feel like I have found a place in the art world.
Emphasis: Sculpture Intermedia
Statement: Conversation—that’s what art is for me. In particular, art that occupies space is an extremely unique way of connecting to a person’s emotions and thoughts. Through consideration of concept, material, the viewer and layered meaning, I force myself down paths of inquiry. In essence, conversation is both the action and the result of my work.
When people see my artwork, I want them to consider evolving social conflicts, such as gender expectations and toxic environments. In my piece, “Fun Bag,” viewers encounter a flesh-colored speed bag hung at eye level from heavy chain made from body-shaping material, a silicone nipple cover and shopping bags harnesses an economy of gesture that I shoot for in all my work. It makes you think about the pejorative term and also how women in toxic relationships might be experiencing their reality.
“Leveling Up” consists of rough industrial materials and allusions to slick feminine ideals. The red toxic enamel paint is reminiscent of circa 1990s nail polish and the spike heels could hobble the best of poll dancers. The economy of language questions gender roles and the hammer heel can only deconstruct. Is the viewer aroused, uncomfortable, empowered?
Finally, my piece, “Boxed,” gives an upholstered nod to Donald Judd but refuses to use the same modernist, rigid materials. It resists narrative and yet, the fabrics are personal and get progressively more honest until clarity is achieved. No outsourcing of fabrication here. “Boxed” was made by one person, a woman, by hand. “Boxed” was made by me.
The materials I use in my work are varied and really depend on the conversation I’m searching to have with myself during the creation process. For some works, learning to manipulate a new material is a dialogue and mediation on my concept. It’s important to my process because it allows me to ruminate on what I want to say with a piece.
Face-to-face conversations can be inhibited by social norms, manners, language and culture. Through sculpture, I can transcend those limitations and barriers to have a deeper interaction with the viewer and the world at large. The process of creating each piece is the result of conversation in context between artist and material. It’s an interaction I value and a reciprocity from which my artwork and self evolves.
Emphasis: Painting & Drawing major, Art History minor
Statement: Kit Liechty (they/them) is an artist who takes horror and humor to create silly, scary things. The creature costume project was created when they drove their sister home from New York City the first week of June 2020. It was a time of unrest and fear. The project was meant to highlight the fear that existed throughout the nation. Much of Kit’s art highlights the unpleasantness of life through humor.
Emphasis: Photography/Digital Imaging
Statement: There’s always someone to ask you what kind of photography do you shoot? For me it’s never really been about that, it’s been about while you’re working on a project, taking those shots in between. Finding those moments while you’re working with other people, you look up and you see someone while they’re posing for another photographer, you snap a shot. You ask a teenager you work with if they would be willing to help with a project and while you’re letting them rest between their shots, you shoot them just having fun. In your learning how to photograph glass, you go on to find that one shot where the lines and the lighting were perfect, but it was while you were shooting randomly to clear your mind. Being in London and staying in an area where you have to cross bridges to get everywhere. My photos that I love the most are those in between the moments. Between the planned, the purpose and just getting people while they’re enjoying themselves. So, when I looked through my stuff for this year’s show, what I found were those moments. Captured moments perfect randomness.
Laurie Anne Larson
Emphasis: Film & Media Arts major, Sculpture Intermedia minor
Statement: My work has come to be defined by biophillia: the human affinity for living systems and organic matter. Organic matter not as something separate or hierarchically distinct from non-organic matter, but rather as an animate and organizational process. Humans recognize the efficiencies, abundance, patterns, tactics, growth in organic matter so easily and derive a sense of beauty, satisfaction, awe. . . I like to inhabit the human fixation on organic matter in my artwork. I let the material and form, which has ranged from soft-sculpture to bacteria culture to ceramic symbolism, be driven by the biophilic inspiration.
I see a tension between our biological history and our made-up systems and built environment. Human beings are almost-apes: retaining the textures of our hominid ancestor’s needs and niches. In not recognizing what we are, we carved out a space in the world that is the wrong shape. Our built systems fail to empathize with our own nature and the biological memory in our bodies. I often make work based on the stresses and pressures exerted on myself, as an almost-ape, by systems that aren’t built for human success. In my sculpture Carrots dismembered feet stretch to touch the ground they were removed from; emphasizing my feelings of displacement and misfit. These feelings inspire me to imagine science fiction worldings that reevaluate human needs and how we can fill these needs in ways that are not only neutral to the environment and other species, but in ways that are actively additive.
“Natural” materials like wood and clay have appealed to me in the past because they offer collaboration with their material memory. I am drawn to the patterns in wood, the bodily feeling of clay, and the extensive processes involved in both materials. I seek to push outside the limitations of the materials I have relied on in the past.My practice is focusing, broadly, on biology and design, and I am developing a more material based practice. I focus directly on involving biological processes and organisms in the creation of my sculptural work. I am enticed by the thought of non-human collaborators like fungi, diatoms, corals, etc.I am interested in appealing to the specific sense of beauty that by which human beings come to understand the world. By actively involving other organisms in my work, they can better advocate for themselves and make these appeals. As we continue to build, design, and ‘innovate’ through the climate crisis,it is important that we acknowledge what we,as humans, really are and empathetically consider non-human matter(s).
Emphasis: Graphic Design major, Environmental and Sustainability Studies minor
Statement: As an art student at the U my perspective on who I am as an artist has grown and shifted in so many ways. I’ve fallen in love with mediums I never considered, such as papermaking, letterpress and conte pencil. I’ve explored concepts I’d never thought about like artificial intelligence, resource productivity and our global responsibilities as artists. My projects vary but throughout I have chosen to embrace both hand drawn elements and digital forms of creation. I will forever be grateful for my education here and hope that I will continue to grow and thrive as an artist once I leave.
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: Some days I’m a designer, some days I’m an artist, and on my best days I am both. Based out of Salt Lake City, I am especially interested in publication design, identity systems, art direction, and working with my hands. I believe that shape and color drive so much of the human experience, and I look forward to using my education to help facilitate insightful, imaginative, and intuitive experiences.
Emphasis: Graphic Design major, Animation Studio minor
Statement: My Graphic design practice is most often motivated by my interest in the internet, and the way it impacts and moves culture. A number of my projects have focused on the good, bad, and potential realities of the information age. The intersections between art and design are useful in creating communicative and disruptive moments as well.
“Watering a Flower,” is a short book on the usage of internet communities to bring people together. Specifically, I cited the comments from the youtube video, Watering a Flower Haruomi Hosono 1984 cassette as an example of the warmth and emotionality that can be found in some places on the internet. The song in the video elicits strong emotions, memories, and sentiments for its viewers, and the comment section has become a space to share those feelings with the public.
The sweet, sad, and sometimes absurd comments guide the reader through a collection of personal statements from anonymous posters. My book portrays this humanity and emotion by using hand-drawn and painted images, printed with a risograph. This creates vivid renderings of my drawings in two colors, pink and blue, in order to create a dream-like atmosphere throughout the book.
ALT.AR is an exploration of digital spaces and museum experiences. My task was to produce a brand identity, and a set of brand guidelines for a museum that only exists digitally. My approach was to develop a visual identity that serves to allow access to digital art materials through augmented reality functionality. Alt.ar’s stark look, paired with a variety of textures makes it easily recognizable to web cameras. When viewed through cameras, digital information is available to the viewer through the visible elements on ALT.AR applications. This project is another exploration in the complexities of digital relationships.
Emphasis: Double major Business and Sculpture Intermedia
Statement: People often ask me, what does art have to do with business? I always answer, what makes you think that they are so different? I am inspired by the teachings and theories of both business and art, often finding myself comparing the similarities between the two institutions that are considered to be so separate and different. As an interdisciplinary artist who also practices marketing, my artwork analyzes the relationship between art and business and the notion of art as a commodity. Through the work, I seek to critique the business-centric commercialization of the art industry and question what it means to be an artist versus a producer. I want to question the market and economy of the “art industry” that often sees work as investments, as commodities. I want to question the creative and artistic mindset required of marketers and advertisers in an industry that does not often view these positions as that of an “artist.” I find myself utilizing techniques learned in marketing in my artworks such as branding, logos, font, design, and other advertising elements that are then re-contextualized and transformed from the realm of supply chain production into artistic components. Institutional critique using humorous language or satirical viewpoints is often employed in my work. Materially, I tend to favor the use of ephemeral sculpture and the digital platform in my work, such as performance, 3D digital sculpture, video, and text. I strive to create art whose value needs reassessment in the current system of exchange. My aim is to create works that are not restricted by fitting into the traditional gallery space, works that are valued outside of our current economic system, works that are experienced rather than owned. Experimentation with a variety of different materials and processes allows me to explore the artistic and economic values of each, and explore the boundary between art and commodity. I intend to expand the boundaries between art-making and everyday living in order to show the intrinsic connections between art and business.
Emphasis: Photography Digital Imaging major, Sculpture Intermedia minor
Statement: Coming out as queer after living as a member of the Mormon faith and serving a two-year mission for the organization was a wake-up call for myself, my family, and my friends. I began my studies in art around the same time that I came out and it has been a premier facet of my work over the past few years. My work is concerned with the experience of living in Salt Lake City as a gay ex-Mormon. Utah’s desolate geography serves as a metaphor for those experiences. The physical emptiness and desolation of the red rock deserts and expansive salt flats are symbols of the emotional and mental isolation of queer people in Utah’s cultural landscape. Through the use of the camera, my body, the land, and the photo studio, I capture the relationship of my identity to my surroundings. I rearrange my world to make sense of it and re-capture it, again and again, my fragmented figure a constant reminder of the difficulty of being verbally dissected by the people around me. I carry the weight of otherness along with me internally. I feel a physical burden pulling my body down, down, down to dust. I see fulfillment in a future outside of Utah and cling to it with every stroke of energy I can muster. The camera is my guardian angel and tool for self-creation, carrying me from day to day until I find that future.
Emphasis: Painting & Drawing
Statement: I convinced myself from a young age that I was the main character—someone who cuts throughthe background and is the star of the show! Now, I’m not saying I’m a social outcast / misfit / popular kid nor am I saying I was born with 3 ears and a tail—I just always knew I could never be supporting cast in the sitcom that is my life. I’m an artist, an activist, a secular-spiritualist, a kind person, a self-described comedian, and of course VERY humble. I come from two immigrant families who came to the US from Latin-American countries to find better work. Raised in a strict religious household I always felt my life was predestined, planned, and that my path was already laid before me—in that cliche immigrant family “you need to be a doctor”sort-of way. Instead, after 3 excruciating years of hell, also called calculus and O-Chem, I decided to switch to a studio art major—and now I spend hours of introspection instead of hours trying to find y and x. My art comes from a place within me, one that brings up trauma and pain—but through art I find healing and acceptance. I combine my spiritual practice and artistic studies to create something that I am passionate about and something I am very proud to share with the world. I describe my practice as “Shadow Work”, Shadow Work is the process of accepting the trauma within my life. Our shadows are the things we hide from the light, the parts of our past that we try to suppress fromour identity—but there is no part of ourselves that the shadows do not affect. Shadow Work is important to me because it allows me to become my most authentic self. Using color and symbolism I can render my non-physical wound into a surrealistic narrative. I’ve always felt that I am special, but I couldn’t find those parts of me till I was willing to work hard and authentically do my best—I am strong willed and I am DAMN good at what I do.
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: Rachel Dixon has always loved making things. She has enjoyed creatively solving problems through the use of graphic design throughout her college career. Anytime she wasn’t doing homework she was taking photos, printmaking, doodling, or coming up with other scrappy projects to fill her time. While her formal education has come to a close, she still plans to learn something new everyday.
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: I am confused by many pieces of our modern condition, particularly the internet, desire, certain human relationships, the intentions of my fellow man, the meaning of it all, and so on. My work (excluding “branding,” “logos,” and “marketing”) (usually) seeks if not to explain these things, then to draw attention to them. Although it may seem counterintuitive to make printed matter about digital matter, I believe that a degree of separation is necessary to really consider a situation. In the words of Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message.” As a medium, the book invites one to slow down, think, breathe, and feel. I wish you could hold these pieces in your hands to get an idea of what I’m talking about... But you have this book in your hands and I made that too. And so I implore you to take a moment and consider all of the things, the books and the screens, and ask yourself why. If you don’t know the answer, at least try to delight in the absurd.
Emphasis: Sculpture Intermedia major, Ceramics minor
Statement: I create work that falls into three categories: works that in one way or another lies to either the viewer or themselves, making the work contradictory and function like a visual pun, work that discusses the individual and their place in society, either mentally or physically, or work that aims to find myself in my position in society, either mentally or physically. As for the lies, I aim to show the audience the negative aspects of these lies but want to show that these situations can be made better by a change of perspective. I often use the contradictory nature of society and show the implications underneath the mask. I do this through my use of cartoonistic animal sculptures often made of epoxy clay. I aim to have these works question the individual and their position or role in society, or of the society and the parts it overlooks as a whole; Donkey Doorstop discusses the “too kind” individuals, Fibbing Fox those who are “easily misled,” and Obelisk of Overlooked Obedience the ones who are to be expended by society. I mask these difficult topics with humor because sometimes humor is the best way to find a new perspective, and sometimes it is the only way to recognize yourself in the work. As for the individual, both of myself and of the others in society, I tend to use clay, wood, mixed media, and new media technologies such as video, sound, and light. I discuss topics such as memory as a social construct- As it fades/burns discusses this through ephemera- The mental stability of the individual- Nighttime Lullaby and Stop Hitting Yourself- and works that I make to bring enjoyment such as World Within the Walls and Text of Memory. These mediums vary due my exploration of materials, however one of the constant threads of my work is text. My use of text strengthens the concept behind the work or highlight the problem that I want to shed light upon. The topics I discuss may be insignificant to some, but I feel that these are things that need to be uncovered to allow for their seriousness to be recognized; a simple problem changes the functionality of the whole. If the problem is taking the place of the individual then the issue needs to be given form to free up space for them, and that is what I aim to do.
Emphasis: Photography/Digital Imaging
Statement: My work is centered one small moments and narrative images. Works about home and memory are the works I truly enjoy. Taking a moments narrative and expressing it in an image is what I look do fo in most of my work. The other things that contribute to my work are light and nostalgia, I like classic and old things and I want my images to reflect that emotion. Light has a huge impact on how people see and understand and image and a space and this is why it is important to me.
Samantha L. Regan
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: Samantha Lagunilla Regan has done it all—Nationally ranked athlete, turned into a world traveler and now a passionate design student with immense drive to refine her skills and improve upon herself through self reflection. She brings a unique contribution to the world around her—an everlasting curiosity and lust for life through the lens of art and design. To gaze down upon her experiences in a very objective and analytical way, while also opening up emotionally allows her to connect with not only the world around her but to the people in it and give back to them in the best way she knows possible. The continual push and pull of our lives is something she is acutely aware of and where she draws from in order to find more authenticity and more creativity in her work on a daily basis.
Emphasis: Graphic Design
Statement: Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Stockton has had a love for art and design from a young age. His various other interests, including photography, videography, music and environmentalism, often overlap and merge within his work. His newly acquired graphic design degree will now be able to help with finding creative fulfillment througha career in several potential fields of design.
Emphasis: Art Teaching major with emphasis in Painting & Drawing
Statement: Sometimes my painting process is as messy as biting into a mayo slathered eloté, other times, it’s as fastidious as the spaces in between the white picket fence of my childhood home.
The intentional composition of the subjects in my artworks explore the idealized connection of the figure with their cultural environment. At the same time, I intentionally restrain the figures within hard edge surfaces to exaggerate the separation of the individual’s identities with their cultural roots. The hard edges become metaphors for the barriers first generation people encounter when experiencing American culture and assimilation. The windows of the figures on the canvas serve as an apex for their expressions. The color pallets and hard edges are borrowed from contemporary Mexican American iconography and consumerism. My work is inspired by the graphic textures and images I find at swap meets, Rancho Markets, panaderías and the like. The figures portrayed in my paintings are oftentimes real immigrants in my personal life. Different identities are highlighted to demonstrate that although the person may have a contrasting identity in comparison to me, we still have mutual experiences as immigrants in America.
I am graduating Spring 2021, with a BFA in Art Teaching with an emphasis in drawing in painting. My anticipation for the future is to work with youth in educational settings and community outreach programs. My art teaching pedagogy emphasizes the importance of an individual’s identity, as well as their opportunity within the American education system, or their power to change the system as artists.