It was an honor to serve as guest juror for the University of Utah’s College of Fine Arts 2020 Annual Student Art Exhibition. I was impressed by both the number and caliber of artworks submitted, which made for a challenging but exciting selection process. As an artist, curator, and educator who enjoys experiencing all types of art both locally and internationally, it was thrilling to see the level of creativity and skill that these student artists display in this exhibition. There were standout works in various media, including photography, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and installation—and I was particularly impressed with the video and performance-based entries.
This year’s show is unique in that, due to precautions being taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in our community, the jury process and presentation of the work are taking place online. At this time of physical separation and with so many aspects of our lives changed, we see our world gripped by the effects of this terrible threat. This historical moment will be memorable for each of us, and the students will no doubt reflect upon the time they showed their work during the pandemic of 2020. While I would have preferred to experience the work in person and for the public to see it installed in the Gittins Gallery, it’s interesting to think about how the work in this show can be considered through the lens of these unprecedented circumstances. It becomes difficult to consider a landscape, self-portrait, or a digital work of art without framing it in reference to the moment in which we live.
I commend the department’s faculty for their dedication to teaching, challenging, and inspiring their students—and for responding quickly to the current situation by moving the exhibition online. Perhaps now more than ever, we need new platforms to show and experience art. As the times have reinforced, art in all its expressions seems to be the unifying thing that all people turn to for joy, comfort, healing, solace, and a sense of community.
Congratulations to all of the students, faculty, and staff on a great exhibition!
-Jorge Rojas, Director of Learning and Engagement at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts