‘Growing Pains:’ the first DSU senior art exhibition in Las Vegas

Karina Larsen, a senior art major from Provo, presents a projection of a video she produced as part of her senior art exhibition. Larsen’s exhibition is the first DSU senior exhibition to be shown outside of St. George. Photo by Naomi Vazquez.

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One senior art graduate is showing her senior exhibition at a Las Vegas art gallery this semester, and she is the first to show outside of St. George.

Karina Larsen, a senior art major from Provo, created an art exhibition called “Growing Pains,” and the road to getting her to Las Vegas involved hard work, long hours and deep emotions.

“I got to put my personal experience into a project that people can connect with,” Larsen said. “This is the first time that I actually feel proud of myself as an artist because before this I didn’t even think of myself as an artist.”

Larsen’s exhibition is displayed in multiple rooms at Left of Center Gallery. It includes both 2-D and installation art. There is a collection of ceramic lidded pots, ceramic tree sculptures, a video installation, and cinder block platforms. There is a dichotomy shown between industrial objects and organic objects, going along with the dichotomy of the human emotional experience.

“Even though there is all this hurt and pain inside of you, you also need to collect the good memories,” Larsen said. “Even though things suck sometimes, I can still look at the beautiful things and the room for growth.”

The final piece in the show is a house engulfed in natural objects like flowers and pinecones. These natural artifacts are things Larsen has been collecting since the start of her college education. She said these natural objects represent beautiful times in her life like when she received her first bouquet of flowers. She has been collecting and preserving moments to put together in this piece.

“When people see my work, I want them to start introspecting and interrogating themselves,” Larsen said. “Like, ‘what are my haunted spaces or the things I keep inside my four walls, and what is the barrier that I create between myself and others?’”

Marylou Parker, gallery director at Left of Center, said Larsen is more professional and advanced than she expected. She said she was excited to offer Larsen the full gallery space rather than just a room in the space. One room is what Dixie State University art majors typically utilize, but Parker said Larsen has a full-length exhibition at the gallery.

“I was blown away by how beautiful the pieces are and how unique the show is,” Parker said. “It’s really been educational and inspirational for people to see this contemporary work and the quality of the work.”

Parker said Larsen was very thoughtful about her use of the space and strategic with the placing of all her pieces. Parker said one stand-out piece from the show is the video installation piece along with the collection of ceramic pots and the ceramic trees.

Larsen said the video is her favorite piece in the show because it is the most genuine, emotional expression of her growing pains. The video depicts Larsen struggling with her cognitive distortions, or inaccurate and negative beliefs about herself. Larsen said her sister was the one to film and edit the video because Larsen knew she needed help from someone she felt comfortable being vulnerable with.

“I feel almost embarrassed about it because this is rawness to the extreme,” Larsen said. “It was the hardest out of all of pieces to do, and it was very physically and emotionally draining.”

McGarren Flack, assistant professor of studio art, said the video is his favorite part of Larsen’s show. He said Larsen did a good job acting in the video, and Larsen’s sister did a good job filming and editing. He said Larsen was not required to produce as much work as she did for her project, and she was very prolific in the creation of her art.

“Because of the amount of work, this show would be the equivalent of a master’s degree,” Flack said. “There were a lot of crunch times most students don’t have because they don’t have to produce so much work.”

Flack said Larsen is a memorable, stand-out student with creativity being her strongest quality as an artist. He said she is experimental and open to trying new things with her art, while taking well to feedback and constructive criticism.

Larsen said her creative interests began in highschool, and her exhibition is a collection of all the art forms she’s learned to love throughout her experience.

“Ceramics class was the first to give me a place to do things, and make things and feel things,” Larsen said. “It was liberating, and although I’m not a ceramics artist, but a conceptual artist, ceramics is my one, true first love.”

She said as she explored other mediums, she always treated different mediums as separate things. She learned how varying mediums can complement each other with her senior project.

“All the pieces have something to say with each other,” Larsen said. “I really played with different mediums in the space.”

Larsen said her professors and art classes have made her the artist she is today, and without school, the door to art would have never opened for her.

Parker said Larsen’s show is astounding, and she hopes to continue her association with DSU to see more student shows at Left of Center Gallery in the future.

“We’re very impressed with the work [Larsen] has done and very happy she gets to do it here,” Parker said.

Larsen said this project has taught her that hard work pays off and has created more enthusiasm in her future as a contemporary artist.

“I now know how I can put negative energy to work and use it as a positive,” Larsen said. “This project is something that I, for once, feel truly proud of because it is holistically who I am.”

“Growing Pains” will be displayed until May 21. To learn more about Left of Center Gallery and Larsen’s exhibition visit https://leftofcenterart.org/