15 bytes
    December 2009
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization
Jen Harmon Allen

Artist Profile: Eagle Mountain
The life and art of Jen Harmon Allen
by Laura Durham

When sculptor Jen Harmon Allen married in 2002, her domestic instincts kicked in as she embraced the idealistic fantasy (and expectation) of being a homemaker. It's common for women artists to explore this lifestyle shift: an identity change manifests itself in their work as they delve into household and maternal subjects. But Harmon Allen's work didn't experience any development of this kind. In fact, her art experienced a hiatus.

It wasn't until a few years ago that Harmon Allen began to produce again. She credits her husband for her drive to return to the studio. "He saw a need I had and recognized something in me that I didn't" she says. "The maternal thing is a big part of me, but he knew I was happier when I was doing my artwork." She did have a need to revisit that creative and academic part of herself, but the initial reason for her return to art was a practical one.

Almost four years ago, Harmon Allen's husband suffered a stroke, and ever since he's struggled to regain his health. Their family has suffered financially and Allen had to find a way to make money. In the past, her art had brought in more money than any other work she had done so Harmon Allen found herself in a place where she needed to create opportunities for her art.

continued on page 3

Exhibition Review: Ephraim
Nativity Revisited
A Contemporary Interpretation at Snow College
by Geoff Wichert

Back in March, Snow College Gallery Director Adam Larsen, inspired by Utah painter Brian Kershisnik's monumentally personal re-conception of the traditional Roman Catholic story of Jesus Christ's birth, invited more than twenty Utah artists of diverse religious backgrounds to create their own versions of the Nativity. Eventually eighteen were able to participate, resulting in the twenty (mostly new) works on view now through Christmas in the College's recently renovated gallery. It's a show that succeeds completely on its own terms, with original visions that owe everything to the idea of the Nativity and little or nothing to the medieval and renaissance sources of the traditional creche: the manger scene, replete with dancing angels, awed shepherds, and reverent barnyard animals that members of one faith are always erecting in the most public spot in town so another can tell them to take it down again.
continued on page 5
Exhibition Review: Provo
Mirror Mirror
New Media and the Contemporary Self
by Jason Metcalf

Jeff Lambson's current curatorial endeavor at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, explores contemporary portraiture through a broad variety of artists and mediums. Mirror Mirror: Contemporary Portraits and the Fugitive Self is presented in three distinct sections: Rituals that Shape Identity; Facades, Mirrors and Masks; and The Real Self, the exhibit focuses on “the factors that shape the ways in which we view ourselves, and how we choose to present ourselves to others.” In this exhibit Lambson produces an across-the-board survey of contemporary portraiture, highlighting excellent local Utah artists alongside emerging and canonized national and international artists. Contemporary portraiture is arguably a classification that is consistent with the majority of artwork being produced today. However, Lambson focuses on works that show how portraits being created at this moment are significantly different than those of past periods, a result of increased globalization and an ever-present proliferation of new media and digital technologies. These new technologies and methods of communication have in many ways dramatically changed the way that we portray ourselves and others.

Mirror Mirror includes a broad spectrum of new and traditional media: painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography, and web-based work. It takes up most of the museum’s lower level in a mazelike group of relatively compact rooms, both in an effort to have enough wall space to display all of the works, and also to create environments for projected video installations and interactive works. The artworks are both whimsical and serious, and utilize sincerity and irony as vehicles of meaning and conceptualization. Some works are attractive and appealing objects, while others find identity through alternative perceptions of form.

continued on page 4