You may have seen a lot of Chauncey Secrist’s work in recent shows, without having seen any of his artwork. In the fall of 2021, Secrist was hired as the Exhibitions Director at the Bountiful Davis Art Center and over the past several months has been responsible for a dozen exhibitions: of other people’s work.
But the Salt Lake City artist still manages to get in some of his own studio time.”I have several projects currently in the works, but the one that is farthest along is an as yet untitled series of assemblages dealing with the human propensity for self-destruction,” the artist says.
Many artists are students of the human condition, but Secrist has made his study a little more formal. For several years, while juggling work as a lab technician and the duties of being a single parent, Secrist has been pursuing his degree in Anthropology. “I’m fascinated by past cultures, and am always interested in how the people of those cultures changed, moved, adapted, or perished, and what factors may have led to those outcomes,” he says. “As an artist, I have similar interests, but with regard to our own, contemporary culture. What can we learn when we turn that critical eye toward ourselves?”
He’ll be finishing his degree this fall and hopes to continue with Archeology, both in the classroom and in the field. He has already developed the habit of wandering in the desert and finding things: rusted metal, bones, antique glass, old wood are all scavenged from the west desert of Utah and find their way into his collages and assemblages.
“Specific issues that I’ve been thinking about while working on this series include, but are not limited to, suicide, self harm, recklessness (which manifests in things like drunk driving), heavy drug use, disregard for environmental issues, science denialism, etc.,” Secrist says. “I make no attempts to offer solutions to problems or to suggest how people might deal with these issues personally. I am neither qualified nor smart enough to know the answers, though I certainly try to address them as I much as I’m able in my personal life. For example, the art is made almost entirely of scavenged objects that were destined for the landfill, I try to ride my bike instead of drive as often as possible, conserve water where I’m able, etc. But ultimately, my role is to hopefully initiate and contribute to a larger conversation about these things. It’s largely a personal reflection, but I think these issues are widespread enough that they deserve our attention.”
You can follow the artist on Instagram.
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