Visual arts exhibition: ‘The Power of Pilgrimage’

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Brian Christensen's "Your Land" is displayed in the B.F. Larsen Gallery in the HFAC.
Brian Christensen’s “Your Land” is displayed in the B.F. Larsen Gallery in the HFAC. The Power of Pilgrimage is the sixth annual exhibition and will be on display through Oct. 30. (Elliott Miller)

“The Power of Pilgrimage” is the Department of Visual Arts Faith in Works Committee’s theme for its sixth annual exhibition in the B.F. Larsen gallery in the HFAC Oct. 2–Oct. 30.

The exhibit features 30 international and local artists working through various mediums to explore “the way ancient pilgrimage traditions endure in contemporary culture and continue to give purpose to life.”

Students in the Department of Visual Arts are given the chance to participate in the show, functioning as graphic designers, writers and curators. Rachel Asplund, a graphic design graduate, drafted the exhibition catalog. Art history students will provide essays to compliment the works of art.

Melanie Allred, an undergraduate student in art history and curatorial studies, curated the show this year. She was given a theme and the responsibility to create a title. She researched artists, contacted them and made arrangements to borrow their work.

She also communicated with the faculty participating in the show. She set up the gallery, installed the artwork and made arrangements for the guest lecturer. “It was jumping into the deep end of the ocean, for sure,” Allred said.

After all that work, Allred “wants the audience to feel like they can participate, not just look” at the exhibition.

She highlighted an exhibit called “Geopilgrimage.” Markers are scattered on the ground with coordinates attached. The coordinates lead audience members to various locations, where they can take pictures and bring them back to be framed and mounted as part of the show.

Alinka Echeverria's "The Road to Tepeyac" is displayed in the B.F. Larsen Gallery in the HFAC.
Alinka Echeverria’s “The Road to Tepeyac” is displayed in the B.F. Larsen Gallery in the HFAC. (Elliott Miller)

Allred said the show hopes to convey the message that pilgrimage still happens today.

“Pilgrimage is an ancient word, an ancient concept,” Allred explained. “People still experience pilgrimage; sometimes it’s physical, but more often it’s spiritual. People feel a need to change, they embark on a journey, they take time to slow down and meditate and figure out what they are seeking.”

The exhibition is designed to create space and prevent crowd buildup, allowing breathing room for the viewers as they walk through the gallery. The works of art themselves demonstrate the artists’ personal pilgrimage experiences.

The Faith in Works Committee’s mission is to “investigate the intersection of faith in art.” “Movement and Meaning: The Power of Pilgrimage” expresses how the power of pilgrimage continues today. The works of art donated to the show come from diverse artists with unique pilgrimage stories.

Beth Krensky is one of the exhibition’s featured artists. She is the head of Art Education at the University of Utah. She will give a guest lecture on Thursday, Oct. 16, at 4:30 p.m., in the Room 260 of the MOA. An opening reception will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the B. F. Larsen Gallery.

“Just come and see. Come and experience. Pause in your day or life, and use this opportunity to reflect,” Allred said. “See where you fit. I really hope everyone can find a home, a place, in this exhibit that they connect with.”

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