Student’s art focuses on nature of humanity

By Alex Cragun, Staff Writer

For as long as she could remember, Cristin Zimmer has been molding and structuring pieces of clay into works of art.

A graduate student in the U’s art department, Zimmer has always had a love for ceramics.

“I consider myself extremely lucky to have experienced an amazing elementary art program in which students were encouraged to be as imaginative as possible and explore the medium of clay,” Zimmer said.

An award-winning artist, Zimmer has been working on a new style of ceramics.

“Part of being in graduate school is pushing yourself to try new styles or ways of working that you might not (have) expected out of yourself in the past,” Zimmer said. “I want my figures to be a contemporary spin on primitive figurations of the past, hoping to capture the timeless and universal nature of humanity. I guess this style could be described as neo-primitive figuration.”

Zimmer was awarded first place at Clay Arts Utah Annual Juried Show in September 2008 and an award for Painting and Sculpture at Utah Arts Council Statewide Annual Juried Exhibition in November.

Zimmer said she cannot credit one person or movement that has influenced her work. She said many factors helped develop her interest in clay, including inspirational teachers, supportive family and friends, an intrinsic desire to work with her hands and exposure to many diverse artists and artistic practices.

Brian Snapp, an art professor at the U, said Zimmer is a wonderful addition to the art department.

Snapp describes Zimmer’s work as metaphorical.

“(She) abstracts (the clay) in a very aggressive way that creates strength and tension in the body,” Snapp said. “She then adds broken pieces of clay with design elements to the surface. This gives the surface a rough mosaic quality. The heads of these figures are large and aggressive as well with a very pronounced nose that divides the face in unusual ways.”

Snapp said he believes Zimmer has what it takes to become a professional artist.

He said that she is entering a field that can be difficult because ceramics artists need to work with fire while envisioning the design they want to create.

“It is labor-intensive, and anywhere along the way the work can be destroyed,” Snapp said. “Learning to appease the kiln gods is a must.”

Stefanie Dykes, an art graduate student specializing in printmaking and one of Zimmer’s friends, said Zimmer is full of life and ready to embrace things that lie ahead of her.

Dykes said she met Zimmer at the Utah Art Council’s Painting and Sculpture, where Zimmer received the jurors’ award.

“You don’t have to go beyond the surfaces of Cristin’s sculpture to see what Cristin is concerned with,” Dykes said. “Imprinted on each of Cristin’s figures, you see the struggle between the soul and our current culture of consumption.”

Zimmer said she recommends that students consider an art degree.

“In other fields, students get the opportunity to work and create with their heart and their minds,” Zimmer said. “However, there are few fields where students get to create with their hearts, minds and hands.”

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