The Beauty of Escapism through Art


Mason Orr

(Design by Mason Orr | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Luke Jackson


In early 2017, I found a man online who was selling both a Nintendo Switch and “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” His price was a little higher than that found in stores, but the console had just barely come out and was sold out everywhere else. As a stupid kid with a decent sum of money, I pulled up to this man’s suburban home and bought the bundle. The second I got home, I set everything up and turned on the game. After what felt like a solid hour of gameplay, I got hungry and went upstairs to get some food. I looked at the clock on the oven, and those little green luminescent numbers informed me that I had indeed been living in Hyrule for the last six hours.

That Beautiful Extratemporal Abyss

Moments like these are special, as they are far and few between little nuggets of gold. They are moments when art pulls us out of our monotony and into its beautiful extratemporal abyss. I think it’s an escape from time that keeps a lot of us coming back to art. Whether it be in a video game, a film or even in a solid slice of pizza, I’m always on an expedition to find that next escapist connection.

When I moved to Utah, I reconnected with an old friend I met on a humanitarian trip to Brazil when I was a teenager. She took me to her favorite sushi restaurant, the Salt Lake classic: Tsunami in Sugarhouse. We sat across from each other in a corner table by a big window. She ordered only vegetarian rolls, which I thought was an interesting choice. Vegetarian sushi seemed inferior in my mind. As our waiter brought out our food, my friend invited me to try the “Hot Mamba.” The soft crunch of the tempura gave way to a river of creamy teriyaki flavors. The slight crisp of the red pepper paired perfectly with the subtle sweetness of the cream cheese. The restaurant disappeared around us as I ate. A symphony of flavor played throughout my body. We weren’t eating, we were experiencing. After the meal, my friend suggested we hold hands, just as friends. Though the Sugarhouse Tsunami unfortunately closed, my now-wife and I treasure the moment we shared there. A moment where it was just us and the food.

Human Experiences

These beautiful moments keep us searching. For some of us, that search turns into a yearning for expression. Meaningful art is created by those who love what they are doing. An artist with a passion for art in any medium radiates through their work. There is always a little extra something special when the artist truly loves what they are doing.

Brenna Woffinden, manager of the Urban Arts Gallery and an artist herself, has a deep and abiding love for physical art.

“What draws me in the most is how tactile it is,” Woffinden said. “Seeing the textures and the human imprint. When you look and see a fingerprint, I love that. It’s the rawness of humanity. Art is something that is a human experience.”

For Woffinden, and for many of us, this love for art was established in childhood.

“I think my initial pull into the art world was through stories,” Woffinden said. “I read a lot and I loved the surrealism, the adventure, the fantasy. These stories could distract me from anything complicated that I couldn’t process at a young age.”

As Woffinden grew, she learned she could recreate this same surrealism and escape through her own art. However, Woffinden also understands that different people are going to respond to different pieces. As she approaches what art is showcased in the Urban Arts Gallery, she tries to promote variety.

“It’s different for everybody,” she said. “You can see the different types of escapism that comes from different artists. So, we try to appeal to a wide variety.”

Open the Door

Personally, I’m grateful for folks like Woffinden, who work tirelessly to invite us to interact with art. I think it’s easier for us to be distracted by art than engaged. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from the hustle to just be distracted. However, there’s more for us out there if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

If we open the door for these moments, then pay attention, I think they come more often. It takes extra effort to really engage, but in my experience it’s always been worth it. There’s a lot of different art out there, so pick something and give it a try. If it doesn’t speak to you, try again, or better yet, create the art you want to see. After you’re done, send it to me so I can experience it too.


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