Talking Back 

Students turn teachers in Salt Lake Art Center’s Continuing Dialogue.

Throughout history artists have grappled with media such as stone, clay, bronze, video monitors or the earth itself in an attempt to speak through sculptural form directly to human experience. Continuing Dialogue at the Salt Lake Art Center presents the work of nine sculpture students from the University of Utah’s Art Department under the leadership of Professor Amie McNeel.

Tina Mariko Burton’s “Untitled” brings a wonderful sense of humor and dream-like imagery to Continuing Dialogue. Created in bronze and porcelain, the work consists of two pairs of disembodied, hollow legs with water faucets projecting from their calves. Each pair of legs sports bronze diving flippers and stands silently facing the other pair. A discarded bronze diving mask and snorkel lie on the floor at one figure’s feet. The elongated limbs and the haunting, yet comic scenario of “Untitled” are reminiscent of characters from Tim Burton’s films. “Untitled” prompts the imagination to complete the figures, as well as the scenario that has left them in this silent tableaux. It is her skill, craftsmanship and the imaginatively interactive element that lifts Tina Mariko Burton’s “Untitled” to an exceptional level.

Continuing Dialogue presents a wide range of artistic expression. The pieces vary from the raw and unfinished work characteristic of student exploration, to the technically and conceptually complete work of refined artistic creation. Continuing Dialogue’s most important function is the opportunity for students to present work to a new, diverse and demanding audience. Its success bears testament to Amie McNeel’s instruction and to each student’s confidence and talent. The exhibit’s success ultimately begs the questions: At what point does the student become the master? At what point do we stop learning and cease to grow and evolve? As artists and human beings, are we not all students of life forever continuing the dialogue?

Continuing Dialogue shows at the Salt Lake Art Center through March 28.

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Lance W. Duffin

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