Art show an audition for students

The College of Fine Arts is featuring its students art at the Gittins Gallery. Jonathan Royce
The College of Fine Arts is featuring its students art at the Gittins Gallery.Jonathan Royce | Daily Utah Chronicle

Students from the College of Fine Arts display their work at the Gittins Gallery where they were judged to be featured in the Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts.

The student art exhibition is more than an event highlighting the talents of the finest from the School of Fine Arts. The exhibition’s organizers want it to be a conversation starter.

Although the annual show is a way for resident artists to gain exposure on campus, it is also meant to introduce up-and-coming artists to the wider Salt Lake City art community.

“There’s a need for this type of dialogue within the art community,” said Aaron Moulton, the senior curator of exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (formerly the Salt Lake Art Center).

Moulton is the juror and curator for this year’s student art exhibition, which opened Thursday and runs until May 4.

Originally from Illinois, Moulton spent the past decade studying and working in Europe before his role at UMOCA. He received his master’s degree in curatorial studies from the Royal College of Art in London. Moulton was also the editor of Flash Art International, a Milan-based magazine that covers contemporary art. In Berlin, he founded the art space FEINKOST.

So what does this European-schooled art connoisseur think of the Salt Lake art scene?

“It’s way better than I expected,” Moulton said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. But I’ve enjoyed exploring Utah’s art history so far.”

Moulton said he is looking forward to getting in touch with the next generation of artists in Utah.

A call for submissions for this year’s exhibition yielded more than 250 entries.

“When I was making my selections, I was looking for a sort of fluency — an understanding of the material being used,” Moulton said.

Ultimately, 97 pieces were ultimately selected to go on display in the Alvin Gittins Gallery, which is located in the Art Building.

“In years past, we’ve typically had about 70 to 75 pieces,” said Dan Evans, professor of art and art history. “So having 97 pieces is pretty big for us.”

Evans, who has been involved with the student art exhibition for the past four years, said in past shows there were separate jurors and curators, but this year’s show is unique because a single individual handled both responsibilities.

Because of the number of works and the diverse range of artists involved, the hardest part about putting together the student show was trying to find themes, Evans said. But that’s what Moulton managed to accomplish.

“When you walk through the gallery, you can actually see a dialogue of what’s going on between the different pieces,” Evans said.

Evans said the student showcase is a chance for U artists to get recognition for their hard work and make their debut into the greater Utah art scene.

“The student art show acts as a continuum,” he said. “It allows student artists a way to start getting involved with the Salt Lake art community.”