By Lane Wright
Seven internationally known artists from Australia will answer questions in a panel discussion Thursday, Oct. 9 as part of the opening of a new exhibit in the Museum of Art focusing on Utah culture.
The exhibit is expected to open to the public Thursday morning and be available all day until the panel discussion begins at 5 p.m. Cheryl May, museum educator, said she is hoping students can run over and enjoy it after class.
“This will not be a typical opening where people stand around and munch on goodies,” May said.
Campbell Gray, director of the Museum of Art, wants interchange, bold questions and lots of dialogue during the panel discussion, May said.
At the beginning of the panel each artist will be given some time to introduce herself and her work. They will talk about themes related to conceptual art, their Utah experience, meanings of works and techniques they employed. Some will be willing to give hints as to the meaning of their art and others will leave it up to the viewer by not revealing very much.
“The discussion should be lively and stimulating,” May said.
About a year ago, directors from the Museum of art invited seven installation artists to Utah to spend eight days getting to know the quintessential characteristics of the state. Hosts from the museum took them to Zion”s National Park, Bryce Canyon, Temple Square, the Salt Flats, Daughters of Utah Pioneer Museum and Sunday meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to give them a feel for Utah”s culture.
Installation art is a contemporary form of art that is not familiar to many people. In this type of art, the artists specialize in creating visual interpretations of cultures and societies. In this case, the Australian artists will be giving a visual interpretation of their trip to Utah.
The exhibit, “Outside: Inside,” was titled to suggest an outsiders look inside a culture. The artists came from outside Utah”s culture to take an objective look inside and show what they saw. The title could also suggest that what sometimes appears on the outside does not always match what the inner reality is, May said.
Because the artists only spent eight days in Utah, their view is inherently fragmented. This fact also plays into the differences between reality and appearance, which could be another possible theme for the exhibit.
One of the original ideas for naming the exhibit was “Fragments of Place,” which later spawned the idea of “Fragments in Place.” The former communicates an incomplete view of the place and the latter sends a more ambiguous message, leaving the interpretation up to the viewer.
May said it is unlikely that the display will be offensive; however she recognizes that some people are offended by what they don”t understand.
“I don”t think it will be offensive but some might be taken aback, even though we got permission from church authorities,” May said.