BYU hosts art about Utah women by Utah women

Published: Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:46 p.m. MDT

"Shelf Preservation," by Utah artist Trent Alvey, is among the works featured in the BYU Museum of Art's new exhibition about gender roles in Utah.

Brigham Young University

PROVO — On one side of a wall, the first side you encounter, white string hangs in a neat, orderly fashion. On the other, the strings twist and tangle, weaving themselves into a towering knot of rope.

The sculpture, Pat Bowman's "Becoming," is a favorite of Jeff Lambson, the curator of a new BYU Museum of Art exhibit exploring gender roles in Utah.

"Everything on the outside is orderly, but it's tangled and complex on the inside," Lambson said of his impression of Bowman's work. It's just one of many meanings of a sculpture that explores how the daily, sometimes monotonous work of women comes together to create something beautiful.

Comparatively, Lambson's exhibit, "Work To Do," came together with ease. Lambson began organizing the exhibition two years ago, after reading a number of surprising, and sometimes contradictory, statistics about women in Utah. Utah's women are among the happiest in the nation, he said, but live in a state with reportedly high rates of prescription drug abuse, depression and plastic surgery.

"That's one of the great things about contemporary art," Lambson said. "It looks at current issues and asks questions about them through art."

As a man, Lambson felt ill-prepared to lead a visual conversation about women's roles in Utah, so he coordinated closely with Bowman, Trent Alvey, Jann Haworth and Amy Jorgensen, all contemporary female artists living in Utah, to craft an exhibit representative of their life experiences. This collaboration inspired the artists to create new works specifically for BYU's exhibition and, as a result, nearly half of the art on display was completed in the last year, Lambson said.

"This art would be important anywhere in the country," he said, "but this art was created specifically for Utah."

Among the works included in the exhibition are Alvey's "Shelf Preservation," a collection of Mason jars, each filled with its own unique sculpture, and Haworth's "Old Lady," a grandmotherly doll made of cloth that the Beatles featured on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the band's eighth studio album.

Another installment features two potted plants, one labeled "Good," the other "Evil." Though the plants are identical, patrons are instructed to treat each according to its label.

The exhibition is open to the public and free to attend, and will run through Sept. 28.

The Museum of Art will also host several workshops this summer, one with each of the artists featured in "Work To Do." The first, scheduled for May 31, will look at the tradition and use of textiles with Haworth. Other workshops will address concepts of self image and beauty (Jorgensen on June 28), labelling and women's identities (Alvey on July 19), and the role of women inside and outside the home (Bowman on Aug. 16).

The workshops are geared toward teen girls and their female mentors. Though free to attend, each is capped at 20 seats and requires pre-registration.

Those interested in attending should call 801-422-8258 or send an email to moa_publicprograms@byu.edu. As of May 21, 16 seats remained available for the May 31 workshop.

For more information, visit moa.byu.edu.

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