Southern Utah Museum of Art fills gallery with thought-provoking works by women artists

"Love • Freedom • Vote" by Trent Alvey in the "Right Here Right Now" exhibit at the Southern Utah Museum of Art, Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 23, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah Museum of Art, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — This year marks the monumental 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s right to vote. In honor of these historic anniversaries, Southern Utah Museum of Art at Southern Utah University is featuring a gallery full of women artists through its fall exhibitions. 

“Work in Progress” mural on display at the Southern Utah Museum of Art, Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 23, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah Museum of Art, St. George News

On display at SUMA through Dec. 23, “Right Here Right Now” and “Work in Progress” celebrate and honor the perspectives and contributions, both past and present, of women to our society.

“Right Here Right Now” features the work of 20 contemporary women artists as the voices of today, expressing where women are here and now.

“Right Here Right Now” was curated by Modern West Fine Art in Salt Lake City. The exhibition features the work of Trent Alvey, Christine Baczek, Liberty Blake, Pam Bowman, Sandy Brunvand, Rebecca Campbell, Shalee Cooper, Al Denyer, Stefanie Dykes, Angela Ellsworth, Kiki Gaffney, Jann Haworth, Amy Jorgensen, Lenka Konopasek, Sara Lynne Lindsay, Jiyoun Lee-Lodge, Pia van Nuland, Jean Richardson, Wren Ross and Laura Sharp Wilson. 

“We were compelled to bring the voices of strong women together to salute and honor women who have been changemakers,” said Diane Stewart, founder of Modern West Fine Art. “We were inspired to feature the works of 20 women artists, each with ties to Utah, who use their talents and craft to visually support the journey of women and the progress through suffrage, for women to participate in their own governance – right here, right now.” 

In addition to works by these women, SUMA is the first location to host all 14 panels of “Work in Progress,” a mural comprising more than 300 stencil portraits. The piece is a community-based project driven by artist Jann Haworth and collaged by Liberty Blake, and it encourages visitors to reflect on the historic contributions of those being recognized as catalysts for change in the arts, sciences and social activism.

The mural features the work of more than 250 local, national and international contributors, most of whom are self-proclaimed non-artists. Over the last four years, the mural has grown from 28 feet to 60 feet in length. Haworth is a female pop artist and co-designer of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover, for which she received a Grammy Award.

In a somewhat similar vein, Haworth recently collaborated with muralist Alex Johnstone on “Utah Women 2020,” a five-story mural with echoes of the Beatles’ album cover and which is currently displayed on the Dinwoodey building in Salt Lake City. The mural features 250 influential Utah women, including SUMA director and curator Jessica Kinsey.

Kinsey said the idea to exhibit only women artists at SUMA during the fall semester began through a statewide initiative called Better Days 2020, which is “dedicated to popularizing Utah women’s history.”

“The exhibition is our way of participating in the celebration and legacy of women – past and present,” she said. 

Promotional image courtesy of Southern Utah Museum of Art, St. George News

SUMA is committed to being a place where the community can come together and learn through art, and this time during the pandemic is no different. The museum has offered a variety of events, both virtual and in-person, to accommodate local and state guidelines. Additionally, SUMA has distributed nearly 7,000 art kits to children in the community, providing materials to continue creating art while practicing social distancing. 

“Viewing and making art has been recognized by medical professionals to help combat stress,” said Emily Ronquillo, manager of marketing and communications for the museum, “and SUMA is proud to be a place in the community for people looking to get away from ongoing stress related to life, work and the pandemic.”

Following the close of the current exhibition, SUMA will reopen on Jan. 11 with the 2021 Art & Design Faculty Exhibition. This biennial exhibition is an opportunity for the campus and community to celebrate the work of SUU’s distinguished faculty members, who have earned regional, national and international recognition for excellence in their areas.

The variety found in this exhibition offers different perspectives and media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, installation art, digital and graphic design.

Along with the variety of art on display, SUMA will continue to host events for all ages to explore creativity and experience a meaningful connection with the exhibitions. Currently, programming is divided between virtual and in-person events. 

Thanks to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Cedar City RAP Tax, Zions Bank and the Sam & Diane Stewart Family Foundation, SUMA is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit the SUMA website.

About Southern Utah Museum of Art 

Southern Utah Museum of Art, on the campus of Southern Utah University, features the artwork of regional artists known for their landscapes, faculty and student artists from the SUU Department of Art & Design, as well as emerging and distinguished artists from around the country.

Strengths of the nearly 2,000-object permanent collection include the body of work by Jimmie Jones that exemplifies his notable career in the regions, as well as a robust collection of prints featuring well-known artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Salvador Dalí, Katsushika Hokusai, Thomas Hart Benton and others. As part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, which also includes the Utah Shakespeare Festival, SUMA is free and open to the public.

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