Wasatch Back students celebrate their creativity in Kimball Art Center exhibit
Artist-in-residence engages community
Textiles, food and everyday objects inspired more than 150 students from Summit and Wasatch counties who submitted art for the 2021 Wasatch Back Student Art Show, which opens June 26 at the Kimball Art Center.
“They’ve been working on these pieces in the last year,” said Nancy Stoaks, Kimball Art Center curator. “Most of them were created in school projects, and some were made by students at home.”
Visitors will find pieces depicting record players, suitcases and repurposed snowboards among the items, and all of the works were influenced by material culture and textile artists Marie Watt, Adrian Esparza, and Elodie Blanchard, who are currently showing their works in the KAC exhibit, “The Stories Woven Within.”
Opening both shows on the same weekend fulfills part of the art center’s mission to inspire, said Aldy Milliken, Kimball Art Center executive director.
“What I love about this kind of show is that we get community members coming to the Kimball Art Center to see these students’ works in the context with the works of other professional artists,” Milliken said. “We know that our young artist community will want to come see their works, but they will also see Adrian, Elodie and Marie’s works. And that will give them a better understanding of the professional art world.”
Showing both exhibits simultaneously for a few weeks reminds Milliken of an experience he had while executive director of the KMAC Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I curated an exhibition in 2013 with an artist who won Kentucky’s Scholastic Art Award when he was in high school, and after 10 years he ended up showing his works at top New York galleries and all over the world,” Milliken said. “He came back to Kentucky and did a show with young artists at the same time, so the young artists were able to see someone who was once like them and they could see themselves getting to where he was if they wanted to commit to become an artist.”
The Wasatch Back Student Art Show will remain open through July 25, when its exhibit room will be transformed to make way for the Kimball Art Center’s artist-in-resident exhibit by Salt Lake-based artist Jorge Rojas.
“Jorge is creating artistic opportunities for community connection through corn and the way corn has been such a spiritual and cultural center point for the people who have lived throughout the Americas,” Stoaks said. “He will do some exceptional things throughout the summer, and we want the community to be involved, participate and get excited.”
Rojas selected corn as the centerpiece of his projects because it has been used in various ways, according to Millken.
“Jorge is using corn to look at ritual, history, community and food as entry points to bring people into a social-engagement contemporary art practice, which is something he has been doing for years,” he said. “We’re in the process of finalizing the dates of the programs he will do.”
One of the programs on the list will be a collaborative art event with the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Milliken said.
“He is our artist-in-residence, so he will be here on certain days to engage our visitors, and he is also doing a project with the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art,” he said. “So we are planning to do a joint event sometime in July. We’re in discussions about when that will happen.”
Meanwhile, the public can start engaging in another Rojas project now, Stoaks said.
“He is creating a mandala at the Kimball Art Center that will be surrounded by figures made out of corn that will be created by members of the community,” she said. “We are laying out supplies so people who visit the Kimball can make some art that will be part of the community project exhibition, which will open Aug. 12.”
The artist-in-residence is a new program at the Kimball Art Center, Milliken said.
“It is another way for us to connect with the community,” he said. “We have incredible resources of nature and the outdoors, so if we can facilitate more artistic research, we will help artists with their careers, and they help us by teaching, educating and connecting with us here.”
When: June 26-July 25
Where: Kimball Art Center, 1251 Kearns Blvd.
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