Reared in a village north of London (and having moved to Utah some 15 years ago), Santaquin artist Jenna von Benedikt paints both landscapes and abstracts with alacrity. A BYU graduate with a Studio BFA and studies at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy, she is well known for her oils on canvas or panel of graceful and grace-filled little birds, which are sometimes displayed on her Facebook page. A daughter-in-law of famed Utah artist Wulf Barsch, von Benedikt’s Mormon faith is central to her work.
She tells us, “I’ve been following for a while, and find the work of [Brooklyn, New York-based] Martin Wittfooth absolutely fascinating—I’d love to visit his studio. He gives a somewhat apocalyptic narrative of humanity through the eyes of Mother Nature via these stunning, beautiful pieces. To use nature (animals) as a way to ask questions about our industrial human lifestyle, our pursuits & treatment of each other as well as our footprint on the planet makes me stop and think.
“Visually, our work is very different, but I resonate with the themes he brings up: Stewardship of the earth, our connections to each other. They raise important, personal, often spiritual questions.
“My paintings are more simplified and abstract. For me, it’s appealing to collide subtle lines or industrialized opposition to something so delicate and natural as a bird. It’s my way to invent a ‘new world’ (so to speak) on a panel for myself or others. By painting these ‘staged’ scenes, I can address the highs, lows and realities of mortality as seen through ‘little bird’ — me, Jenna, and as Martin sees on the news.”
A graduate of the University of Utah, Ann Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She was the 2018 recipient of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Artist Award in the Literary Arts.