A current BYU Museum of Art installation, “Work to Do,” addresses gender roles in relation to Utah culture. The exhibit features Utah artists Trent Alvey, Pam Bowman, Jann Haworth and Amy Jorgensen.
The exhibit focuses on Utah-based women artists and contains photography, contemporary sculpture, paintings and video projections. Carefully selected, each piece brings a different issue to the table of women’s roles in Utah.
“I felt like it was a really important exhibition to have,” said Jeff Lambson, curator of contemporary art. “It’s about women’s work and what women’s work is and how we define and value that in our culture.”
Lambson hopes the exhibit can open the minds of museum-goers and help them to think in a different direction. One of the functions of contemporary art is how complex but how relatable and personal it can be.
“Art is cool because it allows you to appreciate different cultures, lifestyles and different perspectives,” said Alex Compton, a senior at BYU. “Art can be found wherever you look.”
The idea for the exhibit came to Lambson after hearing statistics about a variety of women-related issues, such as salaries, career choices and levels of education. In 2007, Forbes magazine reported that Salt Lake has six plastic surgeons for every 10,000 residents. Statistics like this about plastic surgery, along with debates about gender roles, greatly interested Lambson.
The exhibit features one of BYU’s own, Pam Bowman, an MFA graduate with an emphasis in installation and sculpture. Bowman’s work uses domestic materials and practices, such as string and braiding, to express the hidden complications behind the pressure women face.
“From the outside, this work appears very orderly and very crisp,” Lambson said. “Once you walk behind it, it is very chaotic but also very beautiful. I think that the inside is more beautiful than the orderly exterior.”
Trent Alvey, from Salt Lake City, also contributed to the exhibit. One of her memorable installations, a giant wedding dress of bubble wrap, rotates from the ceiling.
“It embodies our concept of a long-term commitment of marriage,” Alvey said in her artist’s statement on her website. “But it is made from disposable materials.”
“Work to Do” features both the positive and negative aspects of women’s roles and the emotions behind them. The exhibit is a beginning for discussion where a variety of voices from local artists express both new and old ideas. The exhibit ends Sept. 28.