"When Shadows Escape" by Park City High School’s Nicole Sltta, is made from block paper, spray paint and a second-hand lamp. The work will
"When Shadows Escape" by Park City High School's Nicole Sltta, is made from block paper, spray paint and a second-hand lamp. The work will be part of the Wasatch Back Student Art Show at the Kimball Art Center. (Photo by Scott Iwasaki/Park Record)
For more than a decade, the Kimball Art Center has presented the Wasatch Back Student Art Show, which exhibits original works created by students who attend schools in Summit and Wasatch Counties.

The idea is to give young, creative minds a place to show their works in a professional setting, said Jenny Diersen, education director for the Kimball Art Center.

"There are paintings, ceramics, sculpture and almost everything you can think of in the show," Diersen told The Park Record. "We show all sizes of art and it is always fun."

The theme for this year's exhibit, which will be on display from April 12 through May 25, is "What Dreams Are Made Of," Diersen said.

"Every year, it's fun for us to see how the students interpret the theme," she said.

Courtney Spaulding, a ninth grader at Treasure Mountain Junior High, used colored pencils for her work based on the world "Crashing." The art,
Courtney Spaulding, a ninth grader at Treasure Mountain Junior High, used colored pencils for her work based on the world "Crashing." The art, depicting dreams, leads the viewer from pleasant dreams into nightmares. (Photo by Scott Iwasaki/Park Record)
"There is always some fantastically creative things that come through our door."

Themes are decided by the art center staff and local residents.

"Our staff comes up with a couple of themes and we end up choosing three that we present to the community," Diersen explained. "The ideas usually are about an issue that we have in the community or something that the kids relate to. And when the show opens, we set out ballots so anyone who visits the exhibit can vote on the theme for the next year."

While artwork is submitted by most of the schools, including home-schools, in the area, the arts center's own Young Artists' Academy (YAA) is also involved in the show.

Three of these YAA artists — Nicole Sletta, Courtney Spaulding and Jessica Rasch — spoke with The Park Record about their works and thoughts about being included in the exhibit.

Sletta, a sophomore at Park City High School, said she was inspired by Diersen to apply for the academy.

"I had been taking classes at the Kimball Art Center and one of my favorite teachers was Jenny, who told me about the YAA and thought it would be a good thing for me, because I really like art," Sletta said.

"Running" was the theme for the piece by Park City High School’s Jessica Rasch. She used white charcoal on black paper to get a striking
"Running" was the theme for the piece by Park City High School's Jessica Rasch. She used white charcoal on black paper to get a striking contrast in her work. (Photo by Scott Iwasaki/Park Record)
"I decided to join and I haven't regretted it."

This marks Sletta's second year in the program and she plans to apply next year.

"It's one of those things where it's so surreal to see your work in a real gallery, which is something that doesn't happen every day," she said. "We do work hard at it and I'm psyched about it."

Sletta's work is called "When Shadows Escape," and she has worked on it for two months. It depicts shadows leaping from the confines of a lamp to embark on their own adventures.

"That time includes scavenging through shops for a lamp that I could use," she said. "I kept the shadows simple to show movement, but I had to cut out the figures from black stock paper, which is heavier than construction paper, and spray paint everything."

Spaulding's piece, which measures about three feet tall and three feet wide, was culled from the word "crashing."

"The drawings at the top of the work depicts nice dreams and as the viewer follows the images down, the work gradually become more dark and nightmarish," said the ninth grader from Treasure Mountain Junior High School. "At the bottom, the drawings will be horrifying nightmares."

Spaulding used colored pencils and graphite to create the pictures and is planning to use some watercolors as well.

"I want to be a tattoo artist, so the stuff I'm doing now will be the same types of things that I'm going to pursue," she said.

When the artist applied for the YAA, she had no idea how much fun it would be.

"The program is super awesome because it gives you a chance to do art without too much of a guideline," she said. "You get to choose your medium and have more freedom than you would in a regular art class.

"Also, you get to show your work in a legit gallery, which is so cool for people who are so young," Spaulding said. "I was expecting a more formal class, but it's awesome and it's way more chill than I thought it would be."

Spaulding's YAA classmate Rasch, another sophomore at Park City High School, said she heard about the program through a friend.

"I thought it sounded cool because I have always had an interest in art," Rasch said. "I like doing stuff with my hands and like using the more creative part of my brain."

Rasch was assigned the word "Running" as her theme and decided to create a collage of sports drawn with white charcoal. She said having her art on display during the show is like a dream come true.

"I think it's pretty cool to be able to exhibit the art, because I've never been able to express my art anywhere but at school," Rasch said. "So to have my art someplace professional to have other people see it is an accomplishment for me."

In addition to the drawings and sculptures, the Wasatch Back Student Art Show will also feature a special photography exhibit made possible through Vail Resorts' Echo Grant program, which distributed more $500,000 to various nonprofit organizations in Park City.

The Kimball Art Center used the money to help with a project called the Dream Day at Canyons photography contest, Diersen said.

"We wanted to provide a community project that would engage the youth in our community with Vail and Canyons," Diersen explained. "We thought the Wasatch Back Student Art Show would be a great opportunity to do that."

The contest theme was Epic day at Canyons and was open to all students who live in Summit and Wasatch Counties.

"There are so many fun things to do up there and we wanted to see that through the photography," Diersen said. "This also allowed students to explore the medium of photography and since kids are very technology savvy, we were looking forward to the images we received from them."

The photography contest is just another way the Wasatch Back Student Art Show has grown in the past few years.

"When I first began working with the show in 2006, we had maybe 200 to 250 pieces," Diersen said. "These days, we have been able to get most of the schools involved and get much more than that and some students not only make their own pieces, but also collaborate with their friends on larger pieces. The show is great for kids to communicate visually."

The Kimball Art Center, 628 Park Ave., will host the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show, which will feature works by students from schools in Park City, North and South Summit School districts and Wasatch County. The exhibit will run from Saturday, April 12, to Sunday, May 25. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.kimballartcenter.org .