Artist Voices Heard During SUMA Gallery Talk

SUU art professors, art enthusiasts and students met Feb. 1 at the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) to hear stories about the work that was on display from the professors who made them.

Jessica Farling, director and curator of the museum, led a walking tour of the gallery while professors whose work was presented there, talked about their work and told stories of how and why they decided to create them.

Among the professors was Benjamin Kirkby, assistant professor of graphic design. As a step back from a traditional art piece, such as a painting, Kirkby decided to create something more practical.  

“Rocket Launcher” by Ben Kirkby

“I created a working command center to fire model rockets,” Kirkby said.  As someone who designs websites, he wanted to create a sort of bridge between the analog world and the digital world as a sort of challenge for himself. The box is fully functional, and its purpose is specifically designed for his son.

Across the hallway from Kirkby’s work hangs the unique paintings of Brian Hoover, professor of art. The four pieces on display are his attempt to create analytical paintings that remind viewers of what they may see in their dreams. By splashing paint onto the canvas and then painting what he sees from the resulting patterns made by the splash, Hoover produces a surreal work of art.

“They become little Rorschach tests; it’s a fun way to paint,” Hoover said.

“Mappamundi” by Brian Hoover

The final professor highlighted was Stuart Robinson, assistant professor of art education. Again, another piece out of the ordinary realm of a photograph or painting, Robinson went to his roots in Appalachia, and hand-sewed a mattress. When asked about the significance of the mattress, as opposed to any other form of art, Robinson’s response was unexpected.  

“The bed is where you lie unclothed,” Robinson said. “You ruminate, you think.” He brought up the subject of “Appalachian fatalism,” meaning poor infrastructure and substance abuse in that region brings upon a horrific scene in the public eye.  

“Inside the mattress are wood shavings because of the forest area, however, it is also filled with empty pill bottles and pill capsules,” Robinson said. “The words sewn on the side (Poverty, Pain, Helpless, Hopeless, etc.) are another example of that fatalism.”  

The figure on top of Robinson’s piece was made by having a volunteer cover themselves in oil and lay on the mattress like a crime scene body.

Stuart Robinson’s piece

All of these pieces can be found on display at the Southern Utah Museum of Art. Their hours can be found here.

Story By
Trenton Flager for SUU NEWS