At the end of next week, we're going to get a special treat from the art community in the form of a benefit art show. --- "Gods, Heroes & Monsters" is an exhibition happening at Studio Elevn, bringing in nearly two-dozen of SLC's more prominent artists to present newly created works centered around the show's theme. The evening will also feature performance art and music, with partial benefits from the show going toward Equality Utah.
Today we chat with the curator for this event, our good friend Anne Cummings, about creating this show and what you can expect to see, along with photos of the artwork which is still being created up until the day of show. (All photos courtesy of Cummings.)
Gavin: Hey Anne! First thing, how have you been since we last chatted?
Anne: I've been great! I had a baby girl who is now 14 months old and recently completed a master's degree in social work at the University of Utah. Life is good.
Gavin: The last interview we did was during your run with Aperture Marketing. What was your time like there before moving on?
Anne: Aperture was a fun experience and a learning experience. I look back on it and realize just how much Heidi [Gress] and I accomplished during our years running both the marketing end and the gallery. Creating Art Meets Fashion was an amazing endeavor and allowed us to work on a collaborative arts event, showcasing local fashion and art. The yearly event was driven by community ideals and supporting local nonprofits by creating exposure for important programs and raising funds. The experience was invaluable.
Gavin: You've continued to stay involved with the local art community. How has it been taking a more active role these days?
Anne: I'm shifting into an independent curatorial role and streamlining my conceptual themes. There are several concepts that speak to social justice, critical thinking, activism and advocacy that I intend to explore through the curatorial process. Conceptual art that has substance and meaning that you can really sink your teeth into—that's what I'm driven by these days. Process is of great importance to me and I strive to work with artists to document their creative space and how they work on their craft. Photographing process will continue to accompany my curatorial work.
Gavin: What have you been up to lately with your career and what projects have you been working on?
Anne: Finishing my master's degree has consumed most of my time these past two years, however I've continued to shoot and develop a series of work entitled "Abandoned" that explores various places that leave you with a prolonged sense of loss and hold these fragments of human life that contain so many untold stories. I'm intrigued by the stories that surround these forgotten places. Who lived there and why did they leave? These questions and the exploration that the series demands, both literal and figurative, propel me forward to work deeply within this series.
Gavin: How did the idea for Gods, Heroes & Monsters exhibition come about?
Anne: Every culture has its gods, heroes and monsters—born from mysticism, myth and the fundamental human need to insert meaning into life. Are these concepts mere human inventions or do they represent something deeper that ventures beyond the realm of human consciousness. The act of questioning how and if monsters, heroes and gods reside within us all and manifest in our actions and thoughts, opens a door to a provocative and creative opportunity for self-exploration and reflection. I took this idea and reflecting on the broad sociopolitical system and often-oppressive structure that operates within society, saw an opportunity to explore various interpretations of gods, heroes and monsters—ranging from classical depictions to alternative notions that question the traditional meaning most associated with these terms and, thus, reinterpret traditional meaning. Through exploring how gods, heroes and monsters intersect and overlap we can see how a monster may lurk behind the heroes mask and a god may dwell within the most monstrous of humans. The structures of systems that oppress and enslave often create angst and turmoil within the human condition—this exhibit is designed to reveal, inform and inspire dialog about the nature of humankind.
Gavin: What made you choose Studio Elevn as the location and how has it been working with them?
Anne: Studio Elevn is a progressive creative space and Michael Ori has been a great supporter. His studio is contemporary and full of natural light and works very well for exhibitions, particularly those that include performance. Ori et al are fun to work with and bring a creative energy to everything they do.
Gavin: How did you go about choosing the artists who would be involved with this showcase, and who are some of the prominent names participating in this exhibition?
Anne: I wanted to work with a wide range of artists, representing various mediums and whom I felt would be enthused and challenged by this concept. Each of the artists are exceptional both in their talent and in their passion and commitment for their craft. Works will be displayed from the following local artists: Steven Larson, Matt Monson, Randall Lake, Jenevieve Hubbard, Jorge Rojas, Philip Lambert, Jon Lang, Hilary Jacobsen, Vio Wolf, Deborah Brinckerhoff, Portia Snow, Lisa Collett, Mesun Choi, Tyler Bloomquist, Isaac Hastings, Adrian Prazen, Sri Whipple, Jeffrey Hale, Joshua Johnston and Zeke Higham.
Gavin: How has it been seeing the work those artists chose to create come in and begin to form the show?
Anne: It's been a fascinating process visiting with these artists during their creative process and discussing their interpretation of the concept. There is such variation in interpretation from artist to artist. It's been interesting to watch the evolution occur and see how one idea morphs into a completely different idea. This is the beauty of working with a conceptual theme that is rooted in criticism and deconstruction—it's challenging to explore and demands much of the artist. I'm privileged to work with such outstanding individuals.
Gavin: You'll also be featuring performance art from Jenevieve Hubbard and Jorge Rojas. What made you choose them for this show and what will they be performing?
Anne: Jorge and Jenevieve are two very unique performance artists. I wanted to include performance in this exhibit to explore a spatial and temporal interpretation of the theme. Jenevieve will be performing "Touch" a durational and collaborative performance piece involving the public. Jenevieve will be collecting fingerprints at the opening and will embroider them using cotton thread on silk, into a Vietnam-era silk parachute for the duration of the evening. Jorge will be performing a piece entitled "Lucha Libre" and exploring an age old battle between good and evil that will manifest as a wrestling match between gods, heroes and monsters.
Gavin: You briefly mentioned to me there will be a musical installation, what exactly will that consist of?
Anne: The musical installation will be performed by an ensemble entitled Strata Fossa, an open musical collective, consisting of at least three members, exploring nontraditional ways of creating sounds. Source of instrumentation includes both organic and electronica, collaging both live and pre-recorded material, involving audible layers and texture. The collective is interested in challenging notions of both song structure and musical formality, while hoping to reinvent how listeners experience music, regarding typical band-to-audience dynamics. The group responds specifically to a given space and event; each "soundscape" performance is a new experiment. The music may be atonal, subdued, ambient, cacophonous, and somewhat disorienting, at times. The installation will be durational during the opening.
Gavin: What are your thoughts heading into this show and what do you hope people will take away from it?
Anne: I'm excited to showcase some very talented artists and am looking forward to the dialog that this exhibit may inspire amongst attendees. I hope people recognize the diversity of experience and perspective within the works that will be showcased. If it inspires new thoughts, questions and ideas I will be thrilled.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
Anne: I am collaborating on a social justice project with fellow artist and CSW, Brooke Lesley that is entitled "The Invisible Disabilities Project." This photographic project explores the experiences of individuals who are living with invisible disabilities and aims to educate the public and empower those who are struggling with an invisible disability through an ongoing narrative photographic and art process.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Anne: Partial proceeds from sales at "Gods, Heroes & Monsters" will benefit Equality Utah. Come out and support local art and a great cause!
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