Latest Sears Art Gallery exhibit soars sky-high

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With works depicting Batman sporting Converse and sipping coffee, to cloud watchers’ documentation, the newest gallery on Dixie State University campus will be exploring all senses of the phrase “head in the clouds.” 

“Sky: Feet on the Ground” is the newest exhibit in the Sears Art Gallery that opened Monday. Roughly 12 artists from Utah have collaborated with Kathy Cieslewicz, the Sears Art Gallery curator, to collect a vast variety of different works all created with different takes on the show’s theme. 

“This is how we live,” Cieslewicz said. “Our heads are in the sky, and our feet are on the ground, so (we’re asking:) How do we do that and how does it relate to our lives?”

The collection includes pieces that express the theme in divergent ways, from realistic landscape illustrations, to works that depict a behind-the-scenes glance at mundane perspectives of superheroes’ lives (including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman).

The mixture of art media is just as varied as each artist’s take on the show’s theme, Cieslewicz said. They include paintings, cloud watchers’ journals, installations, iPad artwork, and mobiles — kinetic sculptures comprising balanced and suspended components.

“It’s going to be very diverse,” she said. “You’re going to get everything from traditional realism (and) book art, to what’s new, like iPad art.”

Deborah Durban, an artist from Virgin, is showcasing the installation “Gaia’s Robe,” which is a garment made up of a collection of paper prints of cloud illustrations painted on her iPad.

As a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, Durban said the sky has always been a fascinating and important part of her life and artistic inspiration, especially because of its nature to constantly change and act as a window to larger meanings of life.

“We are dust on the Earth — small,” Durban said. “And we have this beautiful cover, the sky…Loftily, it’s trying to remind us that we’re really insignificant and that’s it. And yet we’re all connected…and one of the biggest connections is the sky.”

She said through her artwork she hopes to aid people in allowing their minds to touch the sky and yet remain grounded to reality.

“Art is always an experience about transcending something other than what you are,” Durban said. “That’s what I work toward is having some kind of communication. The art piece is done and then it takes off, and it has a conversation with the audience.”   

Along similar lines, Rebecca Gaver, an artist from Kanab, said she aimed to convey the crucial balance of reality and creativity in her piece, “Destination,” which is a surreal landscape created with pen and colored pencil.

“Staying grounded is really important and difficult, (but so is being) able to fly and soar at the same time,” Gaver said. “You have to stay grounded in order to fly. The best art comes when you let go when you let things float freely in and that’s the head in the sky part. But you have to stay grounded enough to produce it and not just have it be this airy, fairy idea in your head.”

Gaver describes her piece “Destination” as a gestural, evocative, lyrical and animated depiction of energy that speaks for itself with messages that will reveal themselves in different ways to individuals. She said it was a product of free-flowing creativity that came to her on its very own, which gives it an origin that also relates nicely to the exhibit’s theme.

“I try and not let thinking get in my way of making my art because if you think too much, then sometimes it seems contrived or overworked or overdone,” she said. “It’s there; it just needs to come out.”

“Sky: Feet on the Ground” will be on display until Jan. 17, but the gallery will be closed on holidays. An artist reception will take place Friday from 7-9 p.m. at the Sears Art Gallery for students and community members to attend.