Community and Collective in Viewing UMFA’s ‘2020: From Here on Out’
November 8, 2021
In a radical re-envisioning of their Great Hall, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts explores topics of racial injustice, the global COVID-19 pandemic and community healing in the post-2020 world in their newest mural exhibition “2020: From Here On Out.”
Spawned out of the increase of mural projects appearing around Salt Lake City, the UMFA brought local artists and artist collectives into their galleries to explore the topics of racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic in four unique mural installations.
In collaboration with Roots Arts Kollective, the UMFA asked the local community and artists to “consider the year 2020, how we experienced it, and how it will affect our future?” Together RAK and the UMFA put out a call for local artists to respond to these questions and with the help of a selection committee of community partners, three additional artists and artist groups were selected.
From Minimal to Maximal
If you had the chance to visit the UMFA before the summer of 2021, then you might be shocked to see the complete transformation this space has undergone. Gone are the minimal Pantone squares of Spencer Finch’s “Great Salt Lake and Vicinity.” In their place sit four massive, brightly colored murals.
Bursting with color, each mural depicts scenes of family, unity and community healing. These power themes and messages come at such a poignant time, when many of us have experienced loss and a feeling of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When entering the space one can tangibly feel this positive energy and the sense of community these murals create.
Centering Community Voices
At the core of this installation is the centering of local communities. Each mural reflects not only each artist’s distinctive style but also the diverse communities they represent and are a part of. This drive for community engagement goes even further than just the artist, though. Throughout this whole process, the UMFA had an open hotline, “Voices of 2020,” for the public to call and leave their thoughts about how 2020 impacted them and their outlook on the future. Some of these responses are uploaded on the UMFA’s website and I highly encourage you to listen to them as you explore this exhibition.
Another way the UMFA engages the local community is through the way these murals were installed. Throughout the whole of the installation, the museum was open to the public and you could watch as the gallery transformed in front of you. It was truly magical to see these artists in action. Artist group Ella Rises even brought some of the children they work with into the museum to help with some of the painting. The process of the installation not only emphasized the role the community played in this project’s development but also solidifies their part in the murals themselves.
“2020: From Here on Out” does not have a set end date, letting us enjoy their beauty for the years to come. Plan your visit to the UMFA on their website.