Kimball Art Center exhibit finds the ‘Body and Soul’ of portraits
“Now paint me a picture
And draw yourself drawing a piece of paper with pencil
‘Cause you can’t afford to misrepresent me
I want an imitation of reality…” Alt-J
When the Kimball Art Center opens its new exhibit “Body and Soul,” viewers will get up close and personal with a variety of portraits by 24 Utah-based artists.
Curator Nancy Stoaks said the works push the boundaries of the portrait concept.
“In this exhibition, you will see portraits that embrace realism, but also portraits that embrace elements of fantasy, distortion, and the passage of time,” Stoaks said. “Some portraits look inward toward one person’s experience, while other look more outward and use the language of portraiture to make statements about the society we live in.”
“Body and Soul” will open at the Kimball Art Center at with an artist reception on Friday during the Park City Gallery Association’s monthly Gallery Stroll. The event is free and open to the public, and many of the artists will be in attendance.
In addition to the “Body and Soul” exhibit opening reception on Friday, Sept. 28, the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd., will host additional events that complement the show.
Four session portrait drawing class with Nathanael Read from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, Oct. 4, 11 and 18
Guided gallery tours at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Oct. 13 during the Kimball Art Center’s ARToberFest celebration.
Interactive gallery tour and discussion from 6-7 p.m. on Oct. 26.
The exhibit will feature works by Utah artists from Summit County to as far away as Logan and Ephraim, and will run through Nov. 4, according to Stoaks.
“There are some established artists as well as emerging artists in the show,” she said. “I’m excited to see how their works interact with each other.
“Many of the artists I have known about for quite a while and reached out to see what they were currently working on to see how any of the pieces could come together to form an interesting conversation around portraits.”
Stoaks selected 60 works that use different mediums like paint, photographs, clay and print.
The text-based prints, according to Stoaks, features writing of some kind within the art.
One print artist featured in the exhibit is Clinton Whiting, who used real journal entries for his work.
“He wrote what he was feeling every day onto a panel and then painted over them to form a portrait,” Stoaks said.
The curator has wanted to a show focused on figurative work for a few years, and portraits seemed to be the way to do so.
“Portraiture, which is typically based on bodies and on experience, is something that we can immediately relate to and see ourselves in, and we all take selfies,” she said. “(They) are incredibly powerful, and they reflect the society we live in, and also provide a mirror for us to consider our own selves.”
One text-based artist is Emily Dyer Barker, who solicited people to contribute their own stories for a five-poster work.
“The stories are composed of beautiful descriptions of someone, and each poster features a QR code,” Stoaks explained. “When viewers scan the code with their phones, tablets or other hand-held electronic devices, more information is unlocked.”
Dyer Barker was inspired to create her portraits in 2011, when during a spring drive along the Great Salt Lake she saw the words “I Miss Everything About You” spray painted on a retaining wall.
“A few months later the city replaced that section of the wall, but I have not been able to forget the vulnerability of the five-word publication, offered on concrete for the truckers, the sightseers, the commuters from Salt Lake City to Tooele,” Barker says in a statement. “In a culture that offers unlimited electronic means of publication, the five hand-written words were a witness for the physical environment of language and its ability to create a tangible site of human connection.”
“Body and Soul” will give the public a closer look at what professional artists are doing in portrait work, Stoaks said.
“This is a good opportunity for us to step back and think about how we perceive ourselves,” she said. “While a portrait is about the subject, it’s so relatable to everybody and this kind of art speaks to us on a very basic level. I’m very excited to see this exhibit come to fruition.”
Stoaks would like viewers to walk away from the exhibit with a new perception of portrait work.
“My hope is that you’ll find a handful of pieces that truly speak to you and make you think about your own self in a new way,” she said.
“I wanna be seen in a hundred years
As you see me know, so don’t hesitate
Make my portrait made
So paint me now…” Alt-J
An earlier version of this story misnumbered the amount of artists featured in the exhibit as 23. The correct number is 24.
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