Art Museum Features Collaborative Work Of Local Students And International Artist

Mar 14, 2016

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City is embracing Americans' election-year-intensified interest in socio-political issues with several new visual art exhibitions dealing with ideology, immigration and sexuality.  

UMOCA's Curator of Exhibitions Becca Maksym believes the museum can provide diverse perspectives by featuring both local and international artists.

“…There’s an amazing arts community and we want to cultivate that. We want to be a part of that … Part of that role is bringing in national and international artists to be part of the dialogue and to show that Utah has something going on, but then to also inversely show Utahns that there are other things happening in the world that affect them, whether they’re conscious of it or not,” Maksym said.

Artwork at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
Credit Photo: Mikey Kettinger

In addition to the museum's politically themed shows, there is an exhibition of photographs from a project by German artist Oliver Herring, who worked with Utah high school and college students. He teaches to create experimental group-based artworks, one of which took place in the gymnasium at American Fork High School, where Clark Goldsberry teaches Painting, Drawing and AP Art. 

“With our students we used tape and tin foil and the prompt was ‘you can add to but not take away from’ and then [Oliver Herring] put three student models on a table and then all of the other students kind of swarmed around them and began adding tin foil and tape and string … and it just grew and it exploded all throughout our whole gym,” Goldsberry said.

Much of Mr. Herring's recent work involves participation from people who work together to create something by experimenting with provided art-making materials and prompts.

Artwork at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
Credit Photo: Mikey Kettinger

“One of the core ideas behind Oliver Herring is he believes art should be an experience rather than an object or a decoration.  He said that so much art is metaphor and simulation instead of just trying to embrace the present moment, and so his whole idea is to do these art experiences with strangers that aren’t about a metaphor or a simulation, but just about embracing the present moment, and overlapping with a stranger in a unique way,” Goldsberry said.

“The students said that they learned that experience is really valuable … Sometimes with an art project … or in life, things don’t turn out the way that you expect them to, but there’s still value in doing it.  So it’s kind of about the value of process versus end product,” Goldsberry said.

Opening reception at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
Credit Photo: Mikey Kettinger

Mr. Goldsberry believes his students' interactions and discussions with Oliver Herring helped them think about the differences between fully embracing experiences as they happen, compared to partially participating in them while documenting the present through smart phone pictures and videos, something typical American high school students are very familiar with.

Oliver Herring's exhibition with various Utah schools is on view at UMOCA's Education Space through April 16.