BYU art graduates struggle to find place in world

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    By Tiffany Bird

    Dipped in plaster and dried on a dress form used for selling clothing, old dresses bought from Deseret Industries can inspire awe.

    Jennifer Allen wanted to capture a moment in time. Through her art piece, “Stories the Hummingbird Told Me,” Allen evokes the spirit of the person who once wore the dress.

    “I painted images on the dresses that related specifically with them; memories I had of some experience I had last summer,” Allen said.

    Allen, along with three other recently graduated BYU students, are making the difficult transition from student to professional artist this week, as their works hang in the Woodbury Gallery, located at the University Mall. Their work makes up the exhibit “(Re)Collected,” now on display through July 31.

    Art students struggle with the transition in becoming professional artists after graduation without the assistance of a professor shaping them.

    “They recently graduated, so they are basically just beginning to firm up their own personal styles,” Wardle said. “These styles may change dramatically as they go through their career. They are following the tradition of the faculty right now. So they are experimenting still at this point in their careers.”

    Part of the struggle can be attributed to the teaching method some professors use.

    “This is a situation that has existed for centuries,” said Barbra Wardle, art professor and director of UVSC”s Woodbury Gallery. “It is called the atelier method, meaning that the students follow the teacher. The teacher creates the artwork; the students follow the pattern of the teacher.”

    Allen agrees that she now faces difficulties doing art on her own.

    “It”s been really hard when you see art that is very post-modern, like in the show,” Allen said. “It may be partially a result of having been schooled at BYU by professors who value that type of art.”

    Allen explained that professors do have expectations, but the cutting- edge art created all over the world also has expectations and standards.

    “Most of the artists who go into the program know that, and that is what they want to be like,” Allen said. “They realize that is a standard that they will be held against. And some will choose to follow it and some will carve their own path.”

    Some patrons of the gallery sense the difficulty artists deal with while trying to express themselves or their ideas.

    “You see the pieces hanging up and basically they aren”t personal,” said gallery employee Cory Farr, a UVSC junior from Mesa, Ariz. “You can”t really internalize how that artist felt by looking at it. You can”t get emotions out of it. I couldn”t really connect with it.”

    After meeting with some of the artists whose work is now on display, he said he thought the artists had something to say but the point wasn”t always easily identified.

    “I did like the blue birds on one of the dresses,” Farr said. “I thought it was very well drawn. And I like the idea that the dresses look like they were worn at the time they were plastered.”

    “(Re)Collected” also includes works by BYU graduates Shawn Bitters, Nicole Gunn and Brandon Gunn. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and Wednesday until 8 p.m. It is located between Gap and Nordstrom in room N250. Admission is free.

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