The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

‘Space Maker’ at the UMFA Displays the Vibrant Work of Faculty Across Mediums

August 28, 2021


Space Maker, the newest exhibition at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, creates a visual cacophony of tension and exploration, settling into unexplored spaces of exploration and reflection. Guest curated by Mexican-American visual artist Nancy Rivera, the gallery decorates the walls and walkways of the museum with a vibrant collection of work that organically embraces the themes of place and space.

Over 33 featured artists, all faculty within the University of Utah’s Department of Art and Art History, share traditional and unique art pieces and practices in the gallery. The photography, charcoal drawings, paintings, images, video screen performances, hand-built 3D sculptures and mixed media displays create a diverse and exciting collection of work. 

From Virtual to Physical Experiences

The pieces in this gallery speak to both the collective and individual experiences of the past year. “In a time when we found ourselves confined to our homes, artists became hyperaware of their surroundings and created work that highlights their contributions as artists examining and looking beyond the ordinary,” said Rivera in a press release.

 Every medium adds to the curated chorus of pandemic-related isolation, ever-changing “normals,” climate crisis, growing civil unrest, social change and unique lived experience with various verses of color and form, each line and texture resonating with allegory and intent.

From the curtained, center-stage, fabric diorama “Audience” by Laurel Caryn to the poignant, digitally-animated beat of Kylie Millward’s “Rhythm of Menstruation” to the somber waxy “Memory of Anthony Adams” by Haynes Goodsell, we find an overture of identity and self.

In the patterned refrain of Martin Novak’s digital print “Walled Off” and the crisp textures of V. Kim Martinez’s flash-on-canvas “Tantalus_Salt,” we examine relational environment. The familiar diner-booth spaces of Adam Watkin’s inkjet print “Interludes” reflect introspection and intrigue, while the melodic clickity-clack of Paul Stout’s mixed-media “All watched over the machines of love and grace” ticker board piece highlights a scrabble-scattered encyclopedia-word list of plants and animals.

Each piece’s dulcet tones and wild interludes harmonize with one another and build a really insightful collection that is as diverse as each artist and medium included. 

Captivated by Liminal Space

Walking through the exhibit is exciting and intriguing — I found myself diving into the details of the bookmaking and sculptures, and captivated with the processes of dye sublimation on aluminum. I watched Stout’s ticker board for a while as it rotated between gibberish and intelligible phrases, searching each word to find out what it was. Seeing work created by the members of the university’s community made the gallery feel more intimate and personal, and being able to share in the perspectives and vision that they each contributed to the collection was a really poignant experience. 

“Space Maker” runs until Dec. 5, 2021, at the UMFA.


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About the Writer
Photo of Heather Graham
Heather Graham, Assistant Copy Chief, Arts Writer
Heather Graham is an arts writer and copy editor for The Daily Utah Chronicle. She is a senior working toward a B.S. in writing and rhetoric studies with a minor in gender studies. She also reads for The Canticle and has experience with SLCC’s The Globe and SLCC Folio Lit Mag. Outside of The Chronicle, Heather works at the SLCC Student Reading and Writing Center as a writing consultant, writes poetry and prose with several indie lit mag publications and supports a handful of projects and committees.

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