Utah Arts & Museums has announced two Visual Arts Fellowship recipients for 2014. The selected artists are Wendy Wischer and David Wolske, both of Salt Lake City.
"The two artists selected for this fellowship offer distinctive bodies of work that differ greatly from each other," said this year's juror, Nora Burnett Abrams, associate curator at the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) Denver. "Both of these artists develop their work with a sensitivity and curiosity to explore each medium as far as they might take it.
"While one works with the natural environment and the other works with the basic elements of our language, each artist is turning to (as a source of inspiration and for subject matter) something universal and fundamental to all of us—and helping us to see that in a fresh, new way," she said.
"We congratulate Wendy Wischer and David Wolske on being awarded these fellowships," said Lynnette Hiskey, director of Utah Arts & Museums. "The talent and creativity of Utah's visual artists is always impressive. We look forward to seeing the future work of these two artists."
Wischer and Wolske will each receive a $10,000 award.
"As a recent resident of Utah, I am honored and delighted to receive the Utah Visual Arts Fellowship," Wischer said. "This fellowship provides an invaluable opportunity to artists, and I look forward to its resonance within my own practice."
"I'm so grateful to Utah Arts & Museums and to juror Nora Burnett Abrams," Wolske added. "It's truly an honor to join the prestigious company of Visual Arts Fellows, and I look forward to contributing to Utah's vibrant arts dialogue."
A record 165 professional artists applied for this year's award.
"The applicants presented a rich and varied range of creative production," Abrams said. "Taken together, these artists demonstrated key values that are fundamental to a thriving artistic community: experimentation, ambition, reflection and great vision.
"Utah is home to painters, sculptors, printmakers and photographers; and it is also home to risk-takers and complex thinkers," Hiskey said.
Wischer is an assistant professor at the University of Utah in the art/art history department. She received an MFA from Florida State University and a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She creates work in a variety of media, from sculptural objects to installations, video and public works.
Much of the artwork is based on blurring the separation between the intrinsic history of working with nature and the cutting edge of New Genre and New Media.
"Wischer works with immaterial elements like light and finds elaborate ways to make them concrete," Abrams said. "She creates large-scale installations inspired in part by the natural landscape. Harnessing the majesty of this terrain is an ambitious aim, and she achieves this without falling into cliché or stereotype."
Wolske is an artist, graphic designer, typographer and creative director for the Book Arts Program and Red Butte Press at the J. Willard Marriott Library at The University of Utah.
Of his work, he said, " employing moveable type and letterpress printing, I revive and repurpose the materials and techniques of a once-thriving commercial industry to investigate the coevolution of language and communication technologies. I employ layering, rotating, bending and twisting in an attempt to subvert the inherent perpendicularity of the medium."
Added Abrams, "Wolske works with one of the oldest forms of art-making, and his relief prints demonstrate that there is strength and beauty when working in a more traditional medium. But he also pushes the medium of printmaking in exciting new ways, urging it to interact with different technologies and experimenting with the different possibilities he might produce."
"We are delighted in Ms. Abrams' selections for this year's fellows," Visual Arts Program Manager Felicia Baca said, "These artists are making important contributions to our culture by facilitating critical dialogue and understanding about the world through the visual arts. Their contributions to our state resonate on many levels; the fellows often bring important national attention to our state, adding to the cultural vitality of Utah, which has implications for education, economics and an engaged citizenry."
For more information on the artists and the Visual Arts Fellowship Program can be found at http://visualartsfellowship.org .