Stepping outside of the more common gallery route is beneficial anywhere, but our offerings in Salt Lake City have often been few and far between. Luckily, opportunities for exploration have been on the rise recently, offering more diverse work and experiences for those willing to seek them out. The George S. & Dolores Dore Eccles Gallery at Salt Lake Community College’s South Salt Lake Campus is one of those locations that might not be on your typical list to visit, however, the small space in the heart of the campus is seeking to change that. This month’s exhibition displays innovative work by five artists, including Miami-based Colombina Zamponi and Utah artists Shawn Porter, Kelly Larsen, Havoc Hendricks, and Colour Maisch. Gathered under the title Layer Layer, the pieces explore the idea of the effects of accumulation over time through painting, installation, sculpture, and poetry.
The small space is transformed through Shawn Porter’s installation as its wooden rods reach out and bend back in on each other, reshaping the wall and seemingly growing out of the structure. As is often the case with Porter’s work, the overwhelming nature of his reshaping of the wood is mesmerizing. However, its presence feeds very well into the surrounding offerings. The circular forms created in his nest of branches reflect the concentric weathering of Kelly Larsen’s paintings that deconstruct layers of paint and soil to expose the effects of time and erosion. Larsen’s exposure of the process of time in his work creates a feeling akin to a “memento mori,” pushing us to reflect on the inevitable entropy surrounding us.
Larsen, who organized the artists for the show, has brought together an impressive collection of perspectives by combining work that creates dialogue larger than the space would seemingly allow. As we move through the gallery, we’re greeted by the sound of poetry and spoken word performance emanating from the unexpected form of a coconut created by Colombina Zamponi. Her work here draws together concepts of “gestation and reconstruction of language, loss and erasure” according to her artist statement. The effect of hearing the dialogue from the hollowed form is simultaneously disconcerting and intriguing. Adding to the sense of meditative thought that the display provides, the words draw us deeper into the more complex idea of social layering.
The works of Havoc Hendricks and Colour Maisch also center us in the idea of finding more underneath the surface, both on a physical level and in the underlying experiential currents of our culture and individual lives. Hendricks’ work literally causes us to look underneath a tent-like painted easel to a cairn, creating a dual-layered presentation of constructed interpretations of landscape and earth. Maisch arranges her representations of form and texture, displaying a progression of the materials. The presentation of the objects appears to be ready for scientific examination, but the tactile qualities along with an almost sacred arrangement, invite further meditation on their true uses and cultural significance.
While this show provides a unique experience for those who visit it, its greatest benefit is for the students attending Salt Lake Community College. Danielle Susi, art gallery and event specialist, explains it this way: “I feel like this show is massively beneficial to Salt Lake Community College students because it is very different from a ‘traditional’ exhibition of paintings or framed images. I think, in [this] building specifically, where so many art students are walking through and seeing [the] exhibition, that they’ll see something different from the norm. My hope is that it will expand definitions and expectations of art for our students.”
Layer Layer, George S. & Dolores Dore Eccles Gallery/Center for Arts & Media, SLCC, South City Campus, through March 22.
David “HABBENINK” Habben is a Salt Lake City based illustrator and artist. He is currently working on an MFA at the University of Utah.