Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
Lori Nelson: From This Remove
by Laura Durham/ photos by Steve Coray
Ever since she can remember,
has called herself an artist. Growing up in a small orchard town, her
artistic influences were limited, but her first trip to Spain as a foreign
exchange student opened her eyes to a world of art. She became aware of
the tremendous power art can have and was able to apply this awareness to
her own work. She cites the French Nabis painters as a major influence. To
the Nabis, a picture had meaning only when it possessed 'style.' This was
achieved when the artist succeeded in changing the shape of the objects and
imposing contours or a color that expressed the artist's own personality.
This ‘style' is apparent in Nelson's artwork as she allows her memory and
personal perspective to dictate the rendering of her figures and landscapes.
The result is a pictorial, almost child-like style, but with intensely layered
In her upcoming exhibit at
, From This Remove, Nelson continues to reveal her thoughts on
subjects including motherhood and marital and romantic relationships. Although
relationships are a significant subject for her, the artist uses words
such as “distant,” “removed” and “solitary” when describing her work. Nelson’s
figures often occupy a large portion of a quiet foreground and appear to
be completely uninterested in the world behind them. She explains, "We are
all alone, ultimately; especially in the harder moments of life – even if
you have other people around you. But I think there are different kinds
of being alone." Although distance and solitude have developed as themes
in her art, family has always surrounded Nelson, providing her with a strong
support system. In fact, it was her mother who encouraged the artist in her
and gave her the confidence she needed to, as she describes it, turn her
childhood into "careerhood."
Lori Nelson grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado. One of five children,
she considered herself an independent child whose mother encouraged the
unique qualities in her. A schoolteacher informed Nelson's mother of her
daughter's drawing habits during class time, but instead of reprimanding
her, Nelson's mother took the behavior as a cue to enroll the young artist
into pastel classes and enter her drawings into as many competitions as she
could find. Ever since, art has been a dominant aspect of Nelson's life. There
was a short blip in high school involving a failed cheerleading tryout, but
Nelson now sees that mishap as a fortunate experience that guided her to
focus more on her painting throughout high school. She attributes her success
and confidence to her supportive upbringing. "My mother planted the idea
that I was an artist at a very early age so I didn't feel like I needed
to go to school to become an artist." Yet, she went to college to pursue
an art degree anyway.
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Shawn Harris: The Best We've Got
by Kasey Boone
Okay, here I go. I’m
gonna lay it on the line. All my future critical responses will be judged
by this one utterance, this one assessment, this giving of a 10 by which
the 9s and 6s and 7s of future critical reviews will be metered. I stand
on the precipice . . .
I think Shawn Harris is the best artist we’ve got.
Choose, if you will, to ignore my slight bravado. After all, I may not
be too far out on a limb. I’m not the first to recognize this artist’s talent.
Harris has appeared in a number of exhibitions the past couple of years
and the Salt Lake Arts Council is currently giving him a show – the impetus
for my assessment – which hangs until April 9th. At Artists of Utah’s 2002
35 x 35 (where I first saw his work) he garnered
both a Juror’s Award, as well as the People’s Choice Award. He has also
won a Traveling Exhibition Award from the Utah Arts Council. But I don’t
think that any of this adequately sums up the strength and excitement of
So, I’ll say it once again, Shawn Harris is the best artist we’ve got.
By we, I mean Utah, and more specifically the Salt Lake scene – which
is mostly what I get to see. This, admittedly, is not exactly saying that
Harris is ready to conquer an international biennial. But then again .
Harris describes himself as a photographer, but as his eleven pieces
at the Art Barn aptly demonstrate he is so much more. The central method
of his work is photography, usually very large images, produced in multiple16
x 20 sections to create a full image. The photography is blended with oil
paints, hand tinted, often projected both in 2 and 3 dimensions. Most importantly,
the photographs don’t feel like photographs – which far too often leave
a lot of viewers, including me, uninterested.