Three BYU graduates teamed up to bring their influence to the Provo art scene on Friday, Feb. 1, in the Tiny Art Show.
The Tiny Art Show is a community art project that brings miniature art to unique spaces and was started by BYU graduate McKay Lenker Bayer.
Bayer, who graduated in art education, said she had the idea for the show when she was a student and had an assignment to exhibit her art somewhere. She showcased her tiny art on Center Street, but after the art was stolen she forgot about it. A few years later, she came across a Downtown Provo post on Instagram about hidden gems and one user left a comment noting her tiny art.
“That (art show) was probably my favorite thing and I wanted to keep doing it,” Bayer said.
Since December 2018, Tiny Art Show has showcased different artists who have an interest in miniature art. This month featured the work of Betsy Croft and Michelle Christensen. Titled “Lilliputian,” Croft and Christensen said the show was inspired by Jonathan Swift’s story “Gulliver’s Travels,” which is about an island of people who all stand less than six-inches tall.
Croft said that not only do tiny things make her happy, but she also believes they can make change.
“We don’t have to do these big things to be important or make a difference. It’s the little things in life that make change,” Croft said. “I told my husband, ‘I just want to make tiny pots! That’s all I want to do.’ And then this just fell into my lap.”
Croft, owner of Betsy Croft Pottery, made each of the ceramics featured in the show. She received her bachelor’s degree in visual arts from BYU after taking a 10-year break from when she started her degree. While her husband was in medical school, Croft said she was taking online classes but wanted to come back to BYU to finish her last 12 credits. One of the last classes she took was a ceramics class.
“It solidified everything for me. I knew this was what I wanted to do but having that final push to graduate was everything,” Croft said. “My whole life I was like, ‘I love art but I’m not an artist,’ but BYU helped me to see that I’m valid and I’m good and I can do this.”
Christensen, who painted half of the ceramics for the show, received her bachelor’s in illustration from BYU. She has her own brand called My Little Belleville and has worked for companies like Anthropologie, Terrain, Hallmark and Forbes. She has been featured in Nylon Magazine, Frankie Magazine, Country Living and Glamour and has written and illustrated children’s books. Christensen said her inspiration for making tiny art came from wanting to bring things down to the minimal.
“I feel like we’re such a consumer society that I wanted to design things that were small and special that they would keep,” Christensen said.
Christensen started at the University of Utah but transferred to BYU to finish her degree.
“I really felt like BYU helped me hone my drawing skills, so I became very good at the basics of drawing and I think that really influenced my work,” Christensen said. “It’s a good program if you want to get really good at fine art and have a really good foundation.”
To learn about upcoming shows, visit Tiny Art Show on Facebook.