Many apply but two are chosen. Each receives a little glory (spots in a couple of exhibits, an Artists of Utah/15 Bytes video profile) and big bucks – a $10,000 fellowship goes to each artist selected. No matching funds required.
So, yeah, it’s a big deal. Every year, the Utah Division of Arts & Museums has a noted curator select two artists to receive an award honoring excellence in visual art. This year 124 artists applied, making the decision of JoAnne Northrup, director of Contemporary Art Initiatives at the Nevada Museum of Art (and a 2011 Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the ZKM Center for Art + Media in Karlsruhe, Germany), a difficult one. She selected two installation artists.
“In a state known for its natural beauty, it is remarkable that artists with a tendency to look inward are creating what I deem to be the most compelling art coming out of Utah today,” she explains in a press release. “Both Pam Bowman and David Brothers have constructed detailed—even obsessive—alternative worlds.
“They are both storytellers, and those stories seize the imagination of viewers. While it is tempting for Utah artists to reflect the glory of the natural environment, I was drawn to work with a strong conceptual basis, with a specific point of view conveyed through the formal elements.”
Bowman, of Provo, says she tries to “express the value of the human experience through installations that incorporate natural materials and traditional, labor-intensive processes.” The award will help cover the costs of materials and technical assistants.
“Materiality is the foundation for my installations,” she says. “Natural materials and fibers relate to the earth, the lives of men and women throughout time, and to the work they need to accomplish. . . . Many of these processes relate to traditional fiber techniques such as weaving, braiding, and quilting. These techniques are reminiscent of ancient repetitive work necessary for home and life. Their historical associations with work and meticulous constructive processes provide a powerful metaphor for the human experience. . . . Experiences, like fibers, do not idly line up but pull, cover, tug, and jockey for position in a complex, shared journey.” She adds that her installations “reveal with magnitude and grace the extraordinary results of simply living.” You can see more of Bowman’s work on her website.
Salt Lake City artist David Brothers says he will use the fellowship funds to “fulfill current aspirations with less compromise.” He works almost exclusively in the studio, using painted and constructed sets, he says, “building places and propositions. My end results are primarily photos but can also include film and installation. A favorite reoccurring theme would be artificiality and especially, the methods used to rebrand the fake into authentic. This rebranding, usually the domain of film and theater, is, I believe, optimally suited to photography because of its non-meddling nature, giving the duration of focus back to the viewer.” This dialogue, he says, “is half of my action and is the stuff film and theater are made of but without that messy manipulative narration.”
Brothers has made numerous films and videos, some feature length, three of them featured at Sundance. He has had photos published in Rolling Stone, Maxim, Popsmear, Slug and elsewhere. His work has been frequently exhibited, most recently at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.
In partnership with “Artists of Utah-15 Bytes,” the Utah Division of Art & Museums produces short artist profiles of the recipients as part of the award. Please see the links below to some of the videos.
- Wendy Wischer (2014), Salt Lake City
- Mark Finch Hedengren (2013), Provo
- Christopher M. Gauthiér (2013), Logan
- James Charles (2012), Salt Lake City
- Jared Clark (2012), Salt Lake City
- Kathy Puzey (2011), Logan
- Jan Andrews (2010), Salt Lake City
- Joseph Ostraff (2010), Provo
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.