The Voices Behind the Murals in ‘2020: From Here on Out’
October 30, 2021
The exhibition features four murals painted by Utah-native artists centered around the theme of how the events of 2020 affected and continue to affect everyday life.
Muralists featured in the exhibition include Bill Louis, Vaimoana Niumeitolu, Zully Davila and Evelyn Haupt, who worked together in collaboration with Ella Rises and Roots Art Kollective, which is composed of Luis Novoa, Miguel Galaz and Alan Ochoa.
The UMFA collaborated with RAK during the curation process.
“I think it was really amazing seeing the process from start to finish,” Ochoa said. “It was amazing to see, not only, the beautiful murals in [the museum], but also to be a part of the selection committee, planning and trying to envision what this could look like.”
“2020: From Here on Out” also features the Voices of 2020 hotline, a hotline that allows Utahns to call and leave a recording of their reflection of the year 2020.
Each artist featured in “2020: From Here on Out” brought diverse experiences to the exhibition, such as Davila, who works within art education.
“I’ve always enjoyed art but I never saw myself as an artist,” Davila said. “I feel like, naturally, I’ve been pulled to art. I ended up going to school at BYU Hawaii, studying art education. During that time, I actually got hired to work with this organization in Hawaii [that teaches] kids to do murals based on Hawaiian culture.”
Davila’s experience in art education contributes to her work with Ella Rises, an organization that hosts workshops to educate Latina youth about Hispanic heritage.
“[Ella Rises] is set up to have different workshops based around mainly arts,” Davila said. “We have professionals or individuals who are also Hispanic come teach workshops so that these girls can be exposed to different types of individuals that look like them and can resonate with. Being a minority, you don’t get the experience of always seeing someone that looks like you. Ella Rises is there to be that mentorship [or] that role model to guide these girls.”
Another muralist featured in the exhibition found inspiration through learning about Mexican muralists.
“First and foremost, I just fell in love with Mexican muralists,” Niumeitolu said. “When I was in high school in Provo, I would always go to the BYU library and just devour myself in Mexican muralists books. I always drew and painted, but when I discovered muralists and muralism in these books I was just blown away.”
Niumeitolu described working with an artist they had read about growing up, Juana Alicia.
“Right after I graduated from NYU, I got invited to assist with one of Alicia’s community murals in Erie, Pennsylvania,” Niumeitolu said. “That was, actually, the first time that I got to assist painting with a muralist.”
Niumeitolu said her time working with Alicia inspired her to continue her work as a muralist.
“She’s a master muralist,” Niumeitolu said. “When I learned, and actually got to experience that, I was like, ‘Oh, I want to do this for the rest of my life.’”
“2020: From Here on Out” is currently on display in the UMFA’s G. W. Anderson Family Great Hall.
“The experience of painting in the UMFA was definitely different,” Davila said. “If anything I felt very blessed and fortunate. I feel very grateful for the opportunity.”