DSU’s art show ‘Mapping: The Poetics of Utah Expression’ opens for public

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Chatter echoes across the gallery as artists walk alongside their peers, explaining what their art piece represents.

Dixie State University’s art show, “Mapping: The Poetics of Utah Expression” displays various contemporary works through a series of paintings, print making and wire sculptures. 

Art curator Kathy Cieslewicz worked alongside Steven Stradley, a fine arts adjunct, to co-curate this semester’s art show and develop the theme.

“Think about everything that is mapped; our brain is mapped, our world is mapped and our universe is mapped,” Cieslewicz said. “We map our lives as we navigate through it.”

Together, Cieslewicz and Stradley reached out to several artists all over southern Utah to submit their work for the project. After reviewing the submissions, Cieslewicz said it was interesting to see what the artists sent to go along with theme of the show because some pieces represent the literal meaning of “mapping” while others go beyond the traditional meaning of the expression.

Because of the variation among the art pieces, Cieslewicz said the community will experience different feelings the moment they lay eyes on an artist’s work.

“Art is subjective so everything you think, do and say in your whole life connects at that moment you look at the art, and in a split second, you like it or don’t like it,” Cieslewicz said.

Aside from taking the time to examine the art in the gallery, Cieslewicz emphasized paying special attention to how the floor’s reflective surface impacts the artist’s work.

“One of my favorite things about this gallery is the way the art reflects into the floor,” Cieslewicz said. “This show will have some really impressive art reflections, including Steven’s piece.”

“Post- Studio”
Aside from being a driving force behind the art show’s development, Stradley also has pieces featured in the gallery. “Post- Studio” is compromised of remnants of other projects Stradley has worked on throughout the last six years of his artistic career. Acrylic paint, cinderblock, and variable wood sizes were used to form this piece.

“I did not make any of these pieces [specifically] for the show,” Stradley said. “They are fragments from different installations that I had kicking around the studio. Sometimes the artistic practice and the artistic residue of this practice forms a better work than I can make.” 

“Ghost Birds”
Abraham McCowan, a college of the arts adjunct, submitted his wood block print making piece, “Ghost Birds.” McCowan has been specializing in print making for over 10 years. His inspiration for the design emerged while he worked with a wildlife rehab over the summer in Kanab. Over 30 different birds were in the center, which created a chaotic situation for those volunteering at the rehab.

“We had four barn owls come in and they looked like aliens and were hissing at us,” McCowan said. “So I tried to capture the weirdness of the barn owls and how crazy it was with all those animals and trying to take care of them all.”

Throughout graduate school, artist Chris Purdie’s lingering thought, “I don’t have enough time,” kept creeping up in the back of his mind.

“The end of graduate school was coming up and I was trying to think of things that I could do for my final show so time became a really big part of my life,” Purdie said. “So I started thinking about using clocks to create art with.” 

Also influenced by the program of art and technology, Purdie wanted to incorporate a moving element in his clock piece. “Relativity” is just one of many works Purdie has created involving clocks. “Relativity” features a clock tied to a string that extends 50 feet across the gallery. Every day, the clock moves across the string, and when the show ends in November, it will have moved completely across the gallery.

“I think this is one of the stronger pieces because people can see human existence inside this whole idea of a clock being the heart that creates the power and energy to do things,” Purdie said. 

The art show is free for anyone to attend in the Sears Art Museum Gallery inside the Dolores Dore Eccles Fine Art Center. The gallery is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and runs until Dec. 8.