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August 2014
Utah's Art Magazine: Published by Artists of Utah
Page 2   

In Memoriam
Sarah Thompson (1952-2014)
We say goodbye to one of our own

It is often only when someone passes that we come to realize the breadth of their influence, and so it was for us, when at a recent memorial service for our colleague and friend Sarah Thompson, we came to understand the variety of people whose lives she touched. From the comments by members of the activist community to accolades by leaders in her religious community, from the emerging artists she supported to the struggling neighbors she helped, it was evident that Sarah embraced life with open arms.

Sarah Thompson was born in Philadelphia in 1952. After graduating from Tufts University, where she majored in French Lit and Biology, she was accepted as the first female into a special fast-track program at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine. She completed her residency in Emergency Medicine and worked in emergency rooms on the East Coast before moving, with her cat Shado, to Los Angeles, where she worked in private practice as a general practitioner, an ER doc, and ultimately as a psychiatrist.


In 1994 she moved to Utah and married photographer Will Thompson. Here, she worked as a political activist dedicated to supporting civil liberties, completed a multi-year training program and was certified as a Facilitator of the Work of Byron Katie, volunteered with various animal associations and, after attending the 337 Project in 2007, discovered a deep and abiding love for emerging art.

In her last years, Sarah became passionate about dance. "Sarah had the soul of a dancer," says husband Will, who attended performances with Sarah, and took photographs for her articles. "You could tell by the way she looked at them, by the way she she 'got it.' Sitting next to her, or standing behind her and holding her, I could feel the tiny movements in her body as she quietly moved in tandem as she watched dancers move."

When Will and Sarah returned from a brief sojourn in southern Utah, Sarah agreed to start writing for 15 Bytes. Though she was also interested in film, literature and art, dance became her theme. She was a talented and warm-hearted writer, always curious, always eager. Her empathy for the people she wrote shines from her pieces: she was always looking for the human story behind the performance, the personalities that made the movements.

It is because of Sarah's enthusiasm (and persistence) that 15 Bytes began covering dance on a regular basis. "Dance is a visual art too," she would say. Ironically, when our dance coverage expanded, she found herself having to share assignments with other writers — health and time permitting she probably would have written them all.

"As a writer she maintained close ties with those in the dance community and wasn't as interested in serving as a formal critic as she was in acquiring and sharing more knowledge about the possibilities found within different forms of dance," says 15 Bytes Dance Editor Ashley Anderson. "She was just as likely to have an interest in writing about a small ballet collective as she was in interviewing dancers for Utah's more traditional companies and her thoughtful reflections created a great energy around new dance in Salt Lake."

That energy was returned with a great deal of love and respect from the dancers, who for her became a second family. At her memorial service, current and former members of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company honored her memory with a dedicatory performance.

We treasure the time we had to spend with Sarah and the writing she has left us; and every time a new dancer comes to town, or a new piece is set on a local company, we will miss what she would have written.

 

15 Bytes: About Us
Our editorial contributors

Ehren ClarkEhren Clark studied art history at both the University of Utah and the University of Reading in the UK. He is now a professional writer.


Phyllis BarberPhyliss Barber is the author of eight books, including a trilogy of memoir:  How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir, a coming-of-age story; Raw Edges, a coming-of-age-in-middle-age story; and, this year,  To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit, due out from Quest Books. She is the mother of four sons, a founder of the Writers at Work Conference, and a teacher in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program for many years.


HIkmet Sideny LoeHikmet Sidney Loe has taught art history at Westminster College since 2006, and has also taught at the University of Utah and Weber State University. Her extensive exploration of Spiral Jetty will published next year by the University of Utah Press in a book titled The Spiral Jetty and Rozel Point: Rotating Through Time and Place.


HIkmet Sideny LoeAnn Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She also worked for Salt Lake City Weekly and has written for such publications as Utah Business Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine.


J. Michael ReddJ. Michael Redd is a polymath, fluent in the sciences and the arts. He has over twenty years experience as a technical, business and creative writer with an above-average ability to make that which is complex, simple.


Shawn RossiterShawn Rossiter, a native of Boston, was raised on the East Coast. He has degrees in English, French and Italian Literature. A professional artist and writer, he founded Artists of Utah in 2001 and is editor of its magazine, 15 Bytes.


Geoff WichertGeoff Wichert has degrees in critical writing and creative nonfiction. He writes about art to settle the arguments going on in his head.

15 Bytes

is published monthly by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization located in Salt Lake City Utah. The opinions expressed in these articles are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 15 Bytes or Artists of Utah. Our editions are published monthly on the first Wednesday of the month. Our deadline for submissions is the last Wednesday of the preceding month.

Writers and photographers who contribute material to 15 Bytes are members of the arts community who volunteer their time. Please contact the editor if you have an idea for an article or feature, or if you would like to volunteer your time to the organization.

Editor: Shawn Rossiter
Assistant Editor: Laura Durham
Literary Editor: David G. Pace
Dance Editor: Ashley Anderson

Mixed Media: Terrece Beesley
You can contact 15 Bytes at editor@artistsofutah.org

Artists of Utah
P.O. Box 526292
SLC, UT 84152
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