Kimball Art Center gives students a professional limelight

The Wasatch Back Student Art Show, featuring art created by more than 900 students from Summit And Wasatch counties, will open Friday at the Kimball Art Center. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst/Park Record | The Park Record

Wasatch Back Student Art Show will open with a reception from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, April 27, at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd. The event is free and open to the public. The Wasatch Back Student Art Show will be on exhibit through May 27. For information, visit

Students in grades Kindergarten through 12 who live in Summit and Wasatch counties are lucky because they have the opportunity to showcase a work of art in a professional gallery setting each year.

Kimball Art Center’s Wasatch Back Student Art Show, which will open with a free opening reception from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, April 27, will run through May 27. And it’s a very large show, said Nancy Stoaks, Kimball Art Center’s exhibitions curator. More than 900 students representing 12 schools and home schools will exhibit their work.

“As a curator it’s exciting to show these students’ works in a professional setting,” Stoaks said.

The exhibition will feature sculpture, painting, photography and prints that tie into this year’s theme: “Art and the Environment.”

“There’s nothing like watching a young artist see their works in a gallery like the Kimball Art Center…” Nancy Stoaks, Kimball Art Center exhibition curator

“Every year the theme is different and it’s always wonderful for us to see what the kids come up with,” Stoaks said. “I love seeing the creative approach the art teachers bring to the exhibit each year. I also like seeing how equally creative the students are with their pieces.”

The Kimball Art Center sent an announcement about the show to the schools last fall, and Stoaks has been inspired by the response.

“This year the ideas behind the works in particular are compelling,” she said. “There are pieces that are joyful. There are pieces that are more sad and contemplative. But they are all thought-provoking.”

One special element of this year’s exhibit is a food drive.

Parley’s Park Elementary students, led by art teacher Melissa Allen, are donating 560 cans of soup, and the labels have been refinished with pop art, Stoaks said.

“The students created new Andy Warhol, nature-inspired labels for the cans,” she said. “All of the labels say ‘Parley’s Park Elementary recycles paper,’ and we are working on how to showcase these cans and the art in an installation.”

After the exhibition closes, the food will be donated to the Christian Center of Park City’s food bank, according to Stoaks.

Continuing the theme of recycling, this year’s show also features works that take an interesting approach to making paper collages.

“We have some fresh takes on classic masterpieces that make environmental statements,” Stoaks explained.

While the students had the task of creating the art, Stoaks faces the challenge of designing a comprehensive display.

“It takes several days to figure out how to make this show work in this space,” she said. “It’s definitely a puzzle to make more than 900 pieces work together, but I love that challenge. One of the best parts of my job is to figure out who to best present the artists’ and classes’ works.”

The Wasatch Back Student Art Show is one of the ways the Kimball Art Center provides art access and art education to local students, said Amy Roberts, the Kimball Art Center’s communications and events director.

“We have a number of programs that boost art in our public schools,” she said. “When people make a donation to the Kimball Art Center, some of that money goes to these programs that allow students to express themselves and bring art into their lives.”

While the Wasatch Back Student Art show has been a Kimball Art Center staple for years, this one marks Stoaks’ third exhibition.

“It’s been fun for me to see how the exhibition has grown even in my time,” she said. “I enjoy seeing the excitement the students and teachers have for the show. There’s nothing like watching a young artist see their works in a gallery like the Kimball Art Center. It’s a special time for them.”


Scene Happenings: Sept. 23 – Sept. 28

Saturday morning nature walks are held at 8:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Swaner EcoCenter. The cost is $10 per person and $5 for local residents.

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