How do art and the environment relate? That's what students from all over the Wasatch Back pondered this year for the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show (WBSAS) on display until May 27 at the Kimball Art Center. This year more than 900 students participated and the results are amazing. To get a little more insight into the show and find out why "Art and the environment" was chosen as a theme, we talked briefly to Nancy Stoaks, the curator of the show.
How did you settle on “Art and the Environment” as this year's Wasatch Back Art Show theme?
Each year, Kimball staff generate ideas for the following year's theme and then we present the top two choices to the community to vote on during the duration of the Wasatch Back Student Art Show (WBSAS). "Art and the Environment" has been one of my favorite themes. It's such a relevant topic for conversation, and so many of the pieces we receive demand a dialogue.
What are the different ways students are interpreting the theme?
We always try to keep the theme open-ended enough that students are able use their imagination. This year, there is exciting variation — everything from art made from recycled finds to remakes of classic paintings updated to reflect our new environmental reality.
Are there any examples of artists who you think have made a difference for the environment using art?
Art has the ability to bring new perspectives into view and can be a great catalyst for conversation. Richard Smithson's Spiral Jetty and Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels are great local examples of artworks made within the landscape that reframe our experience of our surrounding environment. But there are many important artists today making the environment their subject, among them Mark Crenshaw, whose work will be on display in the Kimball's Café Gallery during the same run of the Wasatch Back Student Art Show.
Are there any favorite student projects you have? Why?
It's hard to pick a favorite, but I can say that this is my favorite WBSAS exhibition of the three since I’ve been the curator at Kimball Art Center. This year more than 900 students participated in making artwork for the exhibition. It's an astounding number and it's thrilling to walk in the gallery and see all of their work on view. The work it in is extremely compelling, and I find myself inspired by the creativity of our community's young artists.