Department of Art and Art History Studio Art

Students showcase products, art, and arguments during Research Week

Thu. April 30, 2015

people stand around posters in large ballroom
The 2015 Longhorn Research Bazaar took place on April 22 in the Texas Union Ballroom.

From community-based social design to art exhibitions, symposia, and ethics in art education, department undergraduate students demonstrate the importance of research in Art Education, Art History, Design, and Studio Art.

Students presented projects and artwork during Research Week alongside colleagues across campus. Events included an exhibition of visual art for the duration of the week, presentations at the Longhorn Research Bazaar, and the Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium.

Third year Design students Alexandra Mann and Cassidy Reynolds presented sparkbuddy, a website that enables children to set health goals and connect with other children with similar goals.

“We probably spent around 75% of the semester researching and 25% of the semester formally designing,” described Alexandra Mann. “Good design is well informed within the context of each project. Its not possible to go through the full design process without gaining an in depth understanding of the ‘who, what, where, when, and how’ of your project.”

three women pose for picture in front of poster
Students present projects at the Longhorn Research Bazaar. From left to right: Jacky Cardenas, Natalie Gomez, and Chelsea Chang

Natalie Gomez, Visual Art Studies undergraduate, presented a group research project entitled, Speak up! Should artistic expression in art education receive the same degree of legal protection as other types of freedom of expression?

When asked about the impetus for the research topic, Natalie Gomez explained, “It was an issue that we felt would be extremely beneficial to us and our peers as artists and future art educators.”

On Friday, April 24, seven Art History seniors presented their honors theses papers at the third annual Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium. The event celebrated the end of an intense semester spent writing a thesis paper alongside the students’ normal coursework. Art History senior Tracey Borders presented a paper entitled, Urbi et Orbi: Politics and Patronage in the Papacy of Boniface VIII.

people in raised auditorium listening to woman present with presentation
Tracey Borders presents in front of full room.

“This process has helped me grow as an art historian and as a person,” said Tracey Borders. “It has been one of the most challenging experiences but entirely worth it. I hope to get involved in government after graduation, and the tools I have acquired through the research and writing of my thesis will be extremely useful for the career path I hope to pursue in Texas politics.”

The university’s Office of Undergraduate Research organizes Research Week every year with the School of Undergraduate Studies and the Senate of College Councils. Each year, Department of Art and Art History students participate in this university event and proudly present work resulting from hours spent in the studio, library, and in the community.

“There is no ‘education’ without research,” Natalie Gomez remarked. “Research is essentially a thorough inquiry and that skill is required of all students entering any profession.”

Assistant Professor Jeff Williams' exhibition is what is reviewed by Glasstire

Fri. April 24, 2015

metal sheet with green fuzz hanging on hallway wall
Photo: Sandy Carson

is what is, on view at The Courtyard Gallery through May 2, 2015, features work by Jeff Williams. The exhibition was recently reviewed by Glasstire.

Solo Exhibition of work by Ian Pedio, MFA Studio Art 2002

Fri. April 24, 2015

two digital photographs overlapped and transparent
Image courtesy of the artist

Ian Pedigo (MFA in Studio Art, 2002) presents work in The Arrows Like Soft Moon Beams, his fourth solo exhibition at 65Grand in Chicago. The exhibition will be on view April 17 – May 23, 2015.

Laurel Shear presents work in juried exhibition

Wed. April 22, 2015

abstract painting in beige, red and cream colors
Image courtesy of the artist

Work by Laurel Shear (MFA in Studio Art, 2015) was selected for a juried exhibition, Cultural Conversations, at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The exhibition will be on view May 8 – May 29, 2015.

Visual Arts Center Director Jade Walker interviews alumnus Jared Steffensen, featured in Torque and Axis at The Courtyard Gallery

Thu. April 30, 2015

print of yellow red and green u shapes on blue hanging against wall and floor
Untitled (Quarter Pipe Doubles), 2013, photo paper

Jared Steffensen was born in Fairfax, Virginia. He earned a BFA in Intermedia Sculpture from the University of Utah in 2002 and an MFA from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006. Steffensen seemingly joins disparate realms through geometric abstraction. He was a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant in 2006. His work has been exhibited throughout the US, as well as in Mexico, Germany, and The Netherlands. He is currently the Curator of Education at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He recently answered questions from Jade Walker, director of the Visual Arts Center, by email.

Jade Walker: After graduating, what did you do and what informed your decisions in the studio?

Jared Steffensen: I moved to Providence, Rhode Island to work for a furniture designer/cabinetmaker for a year after leaving Austin, then moved back to Salt Lake to teach at the University of Utah. I eventually started working at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in the education department.

I still had some things to resolve with the work I was making during school, so I focused on that until around 2011. Much of that work was centered on my relationship to place — specifically Salt Lake City and how to better understand what my relationship to the city was.

In 2011, I shifted from thinking about place in a geographic sense to place as it relates to architecture. I’d say skateboarding influenced that shift. The way in which skateboarding teaches you to see and interact with your surroundings based on how you move through or use them and the endless possibilities provided by that act. I also re-examined the objects and obstacles created to facilitate that movement. In a way, I think that I’ve always approached art making in this manner, but now I’m open to the connection to skateboarding.

JW: How do you negotiate/combine your formal ideas about art with your life-long passion for skateboarding?

JS: I think there is a fair amount of cross over between the two. I see similarities in their cyclical nature, the specific language developed to describe aspects of each community, how that language may not always be understood by people outside that community, and the learning from failure.

For me, it’s about finding the places where they overlap and using those overlaps to inform my work. Whether its constructing architectural forms that have a relationship to both skateboarding and minimalism, recording indexical marks created by skateboarders interacting with those forms, how the body informs and responds to that interaction, or repurposing found objects used for skateboarding.

image of wood ramps in corner with double blue lines showing skateboard track
Corner Pocket, 2012, wood and vinyl.

JW: Much of your past work focused on geographical places. How is the work you have created for Torque and Axis similar or different?

JS: It’s a mix of both, but geography — in a straight forward sense — is less important now or better yet, less noticeable. It’s hard to get away from it, though. I think living in the mountain west; the mountains were always looming over you, always in your field of vision. They act as walls that can keep things out and keep things in and that informs the culture and the people that exist within it.

By moving back to Salt Lake City and reconnecting with old friends that also continue to skateboard into their 30’s and 40’s, my work became focused on that all aspects of that community. It’s a community shaped by the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains, both physically and psychologically. The community has intense local pride and a pride in the connection to previous generations of skateboarding (some of them, including myself, are pushing 30 years on a skateboard). That connection to the past and its reemergence in the present is what the new work for Torque and Axis examines.

JW: You are a curator and an educator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City. Can you talk about how your day job and your studio practice intersect?

JS: This may be a short and simple answer, but my museum education experience influences my studio practice which, in turn, influences my curatorial practice. I see crossovers in many aspects of my “separate” art careers.

JW: You're about to open Torque and Axis at the Courtyard Gallery, what other upcoming/recent projects do you have?

JS: Back in March, I had some photographs at the Spring/Break Art Show during Armory Arts Week and I collaborated with another Salt Lake artist, Christopher Kelly, on a project called It’s Going To Take Some Getting Used To. At the end of May, I’ll be in a two-person exhibition at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah with Svavar Jónatansson.  

JW: What advice would you give to graduating MFA candidates?

JS: Keep making. Find a community (whatever that means to you) and actively be part of it.


Torque and Axis opens May 7, 2015 at The Courtyard Gallery. The exhibition will be on view May 7 – September 26, 2015.

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