Sarah May at 35×35

Hung back to back next to the north windows in the west galleries, Sarah May’s cyanotype tapestries seem to want to flee the gallery—to be taken on the wind to the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

One of Sarah May’s tapestries is lit by the natural light of the gallery’s west windows. Liza Trépanier’s “Phototropic Delicatessen” is in the background. Image credit: Shawn Rossiter

While at an artist residency at the Center for Photography in Woodstock, New York, Salt Lake City artist Sarah May began making a series of tapestries weaving together images produced with the cyanotype process. The tapestries, featuring images in which the artist stood in for individuals from her matriarchal and patriarchal lines, celebrated the idea of the Ancestress. In 2023, she continued the tapestry work in a new, though related, direction.

These two pieces were made as part of the 2023 vigil for the Great Salt Lake, which the artist describes as “a water body and entity connected to me as a home, conduit, and sacred space. I connect to the sacred parts of myself while I am at her shores, and the Lake is included as an ancestress within this larger body of work.”


During the duration of the 35×35 exhibition, the artist has been involved in another community vigil for the Great Salt Lake at the Utah Capitol. Every day, a group of concerned citizens unite to celebrate the lake, mourn its possible demise, and call for action from the state legislators currently in session at the building.

The vigil can be quiet and respectful, as in the morning Walking the Waves (8-9 am), when a procession carries tapestries, like the ones on display at Finch Lane Gallery, celebrating the lake. Or it can be celebratory and jubilant, like during the Celebrate the Species event every evening (5-6 pm) when participants dress as species from the lake, from waterfowl like the eared grebe to brine shrimp and flies, and dance and sing around the state Capitol.

Screenshot from the artist’s Instagram page showing Walking the Waves at the Utah State Capitol

“Love is not a flimsy thing, and it is through showing our love and strengthening our community connection that we will make a difference,” May has written on her Instagram in regard to the vigil.

May is a biracial Salvadoreña artist, weaver, storyteller, and community organizer based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah with her BFA in Photography & Digital Imaging and her MA in Community Leadership with an Emphasis in Art & Culture from Westminster College.



Artists of Utah’s 35×35Finch Lane Gallery, Salt Lake City, through Feb. 23

Categories: 35x35

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.