University students curate exhibit: ‘Finding Solace: The Dark Side of SUMA’

Inset: Photo of "Black Cats" painting by Douglas Pendleton Bennion which is part of the student-curated exhibit "Finding Solace: The Dark Side of SUMA" on display at Southern Utah Museum of Art from late October-Dec. 15, 2016. Background photo derives from a photo of Southern Utah Museum of Art at The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, June 2016 | Photos courtesy of Southern Utah University; composite, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — The Southern Utah Museum of Art is currently displaying a student-curated exhibit, “Finding Solace: The Dark Side of SUMA,” taken from the museum’s collection centering on the student curators’ desire for viewers to examine the depths of their personal emotions. 

 The exhibit opened at the end of October and remains on display until Dec. 15. 

Southern Utah University students, many of whom work at the museum, gained hands-on museum experience curating the “Finding Solace” exhibit while obtaining their undergraduate or graduate degrees. They include Mallory Petersen, Michael Vierela, Ali Morgan, Sonia Pancheri, Kailie Roberts and Gina Dodge.

Mallory Petersen, a studio art major and the exhibit coordinator, said:

We chose this theme to choose artwork that isn’t normally looked at because it deals with darker emotions. It was fun to look at the (museum’s) collection and consider the artist’s emotions when they were creating their work and how we as viewers perceive it. It was a cool experience to expose myself to this kind of art and help others to experience it as well.

The curatorial statement for the exhibit suggests that too often people avoid talking about the darkness associated with the human condition, the university’s news release said. As a race, humans want to forget about painful memories. Feeling they are alone in their emotions, they want to remove their vulnerability. Sadness, fear and anxiety are emotions that every human experiences. One way to confront and overcome these emotions is through art.

A visiting masters student from Milano, Italy, Sonia Pancheri said: “It’s stimulating to dig through the collection and realize that art is not only about beauty but also about the dark places of the soul.”

In this exhibit, the figures in each piece of art are stripped of all distinguishable characteristics, so they no longer represent a single identity but the universal fears that characterize the human condition.

By sharing these 13 pieces from SUMA’s collection, the news release said, the student curators hope people remember and find comfort in knowing that though all are vulnerable, they are not alone in feeling even the darkest of emotions.

Event details

  • What: Finding Solace: The Dark Side of SUMA.
  • When: Oct. 28, 2016 thru Dec. 15, 2016.
  • Where: Southern Utah Museum of Art, 13 S 300 W, Cedar City.
  • Cost: Free admission, general public invited to attend.
  • More information: Southern Utah University’s SUMA webpage.

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