Session A: 9AM – 10:30AM

Arts. Session A – Poster Presentations, Ballroom, Union

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Location: Ballroom, A. Ray Olpin University Union

The Presence of Absence: Exploring the Shadows of Death
Mckenna Goade, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra  Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Shadow is an ephemeral index that implies a presence and absence simultaneously, a duality I am curious about in relation to something non-physical. Shadow is a reference that connects something that is there, to something that is not. This body of work-informed by the post-traumatic stress I suffer from due to my dad’s colon cancer and subsequent death-interrogates the skewed perception of time and memory brought about by this loss through the examination of shadows. I explore shadows as a reference to something that is physically absent but is present through memory and objecthood-and how that energy transfers into our possessions after we die. When experiencing a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) flashback, the subject is forced out of the present and into the past-the boundaries of time dissolve and invade the current moment. It is an ever-present challenge for people with PTSD to remain in the now. As an individual suffering from PTSD, I choose processes that allow uninterrupted access to memory and allow my hands to continuously connect to the surface, supporting unbroken streams of connection. I intentionally access memory by recalling a specific sense, the color of a hospital blanket, the sound of an oxygen machine, or the smell of disinfectant-these memories fuel the imagery and materials of the works. I aim to communicate the importance of an uninterrupted stream of memory through my sustained drawing process, choosing materials that support continuous mark-making. This process is a means of exploring how potential energy becomes kinetic, moving trauma through my hands and onto the surface, parallel to the way one’s objects house their energy post-mortally. These works are observations of my father’s worldly objects and the diverse ways their shadows interact with different surfaces-they become representations of time and memory melting into one present. I use projected images of these shadows onto varied surfaces to interrogate the mixed outcomes of implied absence or presence. The intent of this research is to personally order re-emergences of past traumatic memories disguised as present moments and to allow the viewer to experience disjointed memory and feel the presence of absence, to observe the bodily sensations of post-mortal energy through objecthood.


Finding Meaning: The Combination of Mapping and Altered Image to Access Intangibility
Jessica Downs, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

        Searching for meaning within my practice has led me down a path of deep contemplation in order to find an effective visual language that harnesses the feelings and thoughts that I am unable to articulate. The act of creating a visual representation of something intangible through the use of mapping, altered image, and a deep meditative practice allows for the accessibility of a force outside of human consciousness.
Inspired by the continuous research of several contemporary artists like Louise Despont, who uses mapping in a meditative way, and Julie Mehretu, who maps atmospheres and networks, my work seeks to merge those separate mapping techniques to effectively describe the vibrations and patterns of emotions and internal landscapes. Images, memory, maps, topography, and intuitive mark making work together to create a visual language that hums with life and possibility.
This research has broadened my thought processes and allowed for the creation of more meaningful connections within my work. This awareness will continue to influence future work that strives to effectively describe this universal energy.


My Culture & My Art
Kessley Durrant, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

As a Mexican-American, I work hard on representing my culture in my art. I feel as if I have to fight harder in order to show who I am and who I am willing to become. I often feel a sense of being lost in a community where there isn’t a lot of diversity or main-stream media where we are finally getting representation after years of being ignored.  I realized that I don’t want others to feel this way either, so I work with a community called Ella Rises to help others like me, so they don’t feel lost. We give a sense of security and diversity; we help empower young women and give them a community where they can fit in and don’t have to fight as hard. I make sure to include people of color in my lessons, I work with them in order to lift them up and help the girls realize they are powerful, regardless of background or the color of their skin.  In my pieces I normally portray women, I make their skin different colors, I make them cry but I always put a sparkle of Mexican culture in my pieces. When we think of artist, we always think of the Artists of the Renaissance, such as Michelangelo, Rafael, Leonardo, Donatello, or Monet, Van Gogh etc. All of these artist who I have come to love myself, but other than Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, or Diego Rivera, can you name any other Hispanic artists? We focus on people who are white and mostly men, I think we need more representation. How are kids with ethnic backgrounds going to realize that they too can accomplish bigger and better things such as our counterparts? In a culture that comes from the sun and the most vibrant colors you’ve ever seen, I think it’s about time we get to shine a little brighter. I think it’s about time for us to stand up and show others that regardless of background we can accomplish things. That’s what I teach at Ella Rises, that’s why I put some of my culture into my paintings, so I can shine, so my ancestors can shine, so we can all shine.


Brian George, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra  Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Our natural environment plays a critical role in shaping who we are. Every interaction with the landscape, synthetic or natural, defines our perception of reality in physical terms. The limits of our tactile experiences create an understanding of truth through a process of trial and error. Confirming what can and cannot be. It is equally apparent that unexplained phenomena in the environment require the mind to establish narratives that cannot be confirmed through tangible evidence. A non-physical structure forms within the mind to explain the unexplainable. Each structure is unique to an individual’s upbringing and personal experience. Whether constructed from religious ideology, personal experience, or emotional recognition -the non-structure is the direct result of physicality. My research investigates the relationship between non-physical or spiritual narratives upheld by physical institutions. Exploring my upbringing in a devout Christian home, I engage in broader contexts of historicity, American nationalism, and the hierarchy of Western ideals. While engaging in the work, it is essential to confront my personal relationship with the systems and structures I critique and benefit from. Confronting closely held beliefs uncovers a complex emotional connection to death, spiritual surety, and acceptance. As I wrestle with personal biases, the image reflects a similar tension between abstract mark-making and traditional painting techniques. The visual language is negotiating with itself as new elements are introduced to challenge compositional strategies. I approach each artwork like a collage -building up layers of found imagery to challenge the context each element relies on. After a rigorous application of tension, addition, and subtraction I hope to arrive at unsettled conclusions that prompt more questions than answers.


Drawing The Live Figure, To See with Clarity is to Draw from Life
Hannah Brown Anderton, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

While studying the figure from life, greater clarity can be found in creating marks that the eyes see directly in front of them rather than from a photo or reference. Capturing something in real time that is living requires a greater amount of conscious examination from the artist. Additionally, varying amounts of clarity and true forms can be created differently through additive methods with graphite pencil than through subtractive methods with graphite powder and erasure.

Recalling Memory
Zoe Elwood, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

What is memory? How do we form and recall memories- what limits or enables this exercise? How does memory affect our self identity and the way we interact with the world around us? My project is to research these questions and explore new ways of depicting the answers I may find. I am interested in the intangible and subjective nature of memory, the ambiguous effect on reality that one’s perception can incur; as well as the actual physiological nature of the brain, its neuroplasticity and potential for memory recall. In producing this body of work I seek to evoke these counter truths as they exist together. Without explicit use of imagery or direct representation my aim is to uninhibit the work from any preconceived notions a viewer may bring and to instead draw out an unassumed response from the viewer. The material quality of paint as a medium for research is an important element for understanding the work. Its capacity for permanence, expressed once a mark dries or is reiterated, plays against its own dual nature of impermanence, as something that can be destroyed, manipulated, washed away, covered up etc. In applying such an ambiguous tool to our examination of memory we can approach the subject with a broader understanding, and allow for the flexibility of thought that such engagement requires.


Mother, Not Martyr: Claiming Identity and Taking Up Space
Hollie Anderson, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

The urge to resolve the dichotomy between selflessness in mothering and self identity in taking up space as an artist inspired this arts-based exploration and research. The globally-reaching construct that “good” mothers are selfless and all-sacrificing is one that has been passed down generation to generation and internalized by many who become mothers.  As I began to pursue my passion and career as an artist I grappled not only with the patriarchal representation of motherhood “that depicts an ideological, sentimental portrayal of selflessness and self-sacrifice” (Ciciola-Izzo, 2014), but also with a hesitation about my lived experience mothering as subject matter for my visual work.  Insistent to separate my selfhood from motherhood, I purposely kept motherhood off the table as content for my pieces. As I grew in my abilities and became more conceptual with my art I learned that my experiences as a mother and my identity as an artist are inseparable. The pieces in this series are the product of allowing my lived experience to be present in my work along with a study of literature on the coexistence of art and motherhood.


The Way the Wind Blows
Jolene Matheson, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

This 30″ x 40″ work of art is a commentary on the nuclear bomb testing program in Nevada during 1957. The Atomic Energy Commission conducted testing of nuclear bombs above ground in Nevada from 1951 until 1963, when the Limited Test Ban Treaty went into effect. From 1963 to 1992, testing was conducted underground. Tests were planned for days when the wind would be blowing over St. George, Utah. Shots would not be fired if the wind was blowing toward California. This work focuses on the experience of my family during 1957, the year of my birth in Cedar City, Utah, and two years following, until my family moved to California. Long-term consequences of exposure to radioactive fallout has also been visually suggested in the work.
I used acrylic paint on canvas, collaged photos relevant to my family members living in southern Utah in 1957-1959, and uranium-containing grit gathered from the Morrison Formation in southeastern Utah. The image depicts family members, sheep, and mushroom clouds over a background landscape depicting the Chinli Formation, of which the Morrison Formation is a portion. Grit embedded in matte medium is used to represent fallout.


Identity Explorations Through Relationships
Jenny Mecham Carbajal, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell, Utah Valley University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

The context of my research project is focused on the exploration of relationships and the affects they implicate on self identity and individuals. Acknowledging each of these aspect can be there own area of exploration will inform the connectivity that is trying to be achieved. Though relationship can be applied to objects which includes tangibility, the area I’m explore is intangible. This calls for attention as to what context can be investigated to apply tangibility to the subject of relationship. The area of which I’ve chosen is the human form. This form behaves in a incapsulating  matter that harnesses all of the ingredients of which make up relationships. Emotions, feelings and experiences are some examples. But all of which are intangible and influence how we feed and what we invest into our relationship. But these internal areas can surface within the human form through gesture, posture and body language. The ambiguity and variation between each individual can be achieved by specific and expressive mark making within my artistic practice. Understanding and researching the anatomical features of the human form to achieve high reality is of importance for this research and is the overall area of which I’m exploring.  Relationships vary between individuals and as well as the role they play such as personal, romantic, platonic or family oriented. This will impact the context within the works produced. How the individual perceives and implicates themselves within these levels relationships can impede on how the portrayal of the specific relationship. Inevitably, because I am the artist producing the work, my own relationship with myself and my identity will begin to surface. Which brings the importance of my own exploration of self identity and how my relationships affect me. Exploring the specification of the marks made to reflect how I perceive myself will allow the ability to decipher the marks made to represent another individual other than myself.


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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program Copyright © 2023 by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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