Red Butte Gardens’ Refreshing ‘Fiber Expressions’ Exhibit

(Courtesy Lucy Peterson Watkins and Red Butte Gardens)

(Courtesy Lucy Peterson Watkins and Red Butte Gardens)

By Luke Jackson


Red Butte Garden has been a Utah staple for 35 years — with over 20 acres of gardens and five miles of hiking trails, it is a phenomenal place to explore. Along with providing an escape to the great outdoors for Salt Lake locals, Red Butte also consistently hosts small art exhibits featuring community-based artists. These exhibits range in art styles and mediums and allow all who pass through the gardens to get a taste of the Utah art scene.

Art in Nature

Currently on display is multi-talented artist Lucy Peterson Watkins in her exhibit “Fiber Expressions.” This exhibit, while quite small, packs quite a refreshing and colorful punch. Located directly before the entrance to the gardens, the fabric pieces provide an excellent precursor to the natural scenery.

Coming from a background in graphic art, Watkins finds comfort in sharp angles, bold colors and hard lines. This familiarity and knowledge exudes from the several pieces on display and will easily entrance anyone who sees it. Dedication and passion are found in each of the detailed and intricately placed pieces of fabric.

Creating large-scale pieces with fabric is a long and tedious task. A seemingly endless cycle of cutting, sewing and ironing is required as a piece slowly comes together. Watkins masterfully works with each of these pieces, carefully manipulating them until they no longer look like fabric. Some of her quilts contain over 500 individual pieces, and the finished result is truly breathtaking. I was blown away as I approached some of these quilts. Some, from a distance, appear to be oil paintings — angles and colors traditionally found in that medium are boldly brought to new heights in her patchwork creations

Animals, landscapes, portraits and abstract mosaics can all be found in Watkins’ exhibit. My only disappointment was that there was not more of her work to be seen! Luckily, through a note by one of her pieces, Watkins tells us that there is more to be experienced at her gallery in Logan. Unfortunately, the Red Butte exhibit isn’t nearly large enough to occupy a whole afternoon or evening. However, it does create a wonderfully elegant atmosphere which stayed with me throughout my visit to the gardens.


If you’re like me and haven’t had a chance to visit Red Butte Gardens, I strongly recommend visiting while Watkins’ exhibit is up. Admission is free for University of Utah students, so there really isn’t any reason to pass up the opportunity. Both the gardens and the exhibit are a brilliant way to relax and take in some of Utah’s culture.

More information about Lucy Peterson Watkins and her creative process can be found here. “Fiber Expressions” can be viewed at Red Butte Gardens until July 6, as a part of their series featuring local artists and their work.


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