Skip to main content
Department of Art

History of the Making: BYU Students and Faculty Share Their Art at the Springville Museum of Art’s 100th Salon

Springville Museum of Art Features Utah Artists in Centennial Show

“Cupric Rock Vessel” by BYU Professor Brian Christensen in Springville Museum of Art’s 100th Spring Salon Photo Courtesy of Springville Museum of Art

BYU artists are celebrating Springville Museum of Art’s 100th Spring Salon through curation and creation. Bryon Draper, a recently retired BYU sculpture professor, was one of the exhibit’s jurors. Faculty, alumni and one current student, contributed at least a dozen of the 276 entries on display. Emily Larsen, director of the museum is also an alum.

Brian Christensen, who teaches sculpture at BYU, has two entries in the Salon exhibition this year. He said he has been teaching at BYU for about 30 years and has been a part of the Spring Salon almost every year since 1993

“Springville Museum of Art (SMA) and BYU have always had a relationship through proximity and the zeitgeist of common values in this part of Utah,” Christensen said. The museum’s site states, “Founded with a commitment to quality, life-affirming art, the Museum recognizes the seed of potential within each individual and seeks to nurture growth through the creative process, positive cultural values and a belief in the beauty of life.”

Though BYU and SMA may have similar values, the art at SMA is not officially affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The museum has a spiritual and religious art show once a year, usually in the fall. The SMA Spring Salon features the current unique imagination of Utah artists.

Christensen’s pieces, “Golden Traveler” and “Cupric Rock Vessel,” demonstrate his current line of work with vessels. He said the vessels are an exploration of clay as a medium, how it has a rock-like composition and how glaze can be used to represent the natural pigmentation of rock and is colored with the same oxides as rock minerals. Christensen said he’s happy to have work in the show.

“[SMA] carries a lot of weight for local artists and has a real tradition behind it,” Christensen said. Springville Museum of Art is the first art museum in Utah and was dedicated by David O’Mckay. Christensen remarked he was honored that his work was exhibited in the same museum as renowned artists and sculptors such as Mahonri Young, Cyrus Dallin and Avard Fairbanks.

Local artist James Talbot is a BYU alum and PR Specialist for the BYU Department of Art who has mixed media work in this year’s show. He attributes his interest to the venue’s affiliation with BYU artists. He said SMA wasn’t really on his radar when he was a student at Provo’s Timpview High School but it was once he attended BYU. The museum’s decision to waive entry fees the past couple of years made the museum especially attractive, and he was happy to see that someone from his alma mater was curating. “Bryon Draper has been a sculpture professor in the department, and it is helpful as an artist to submit to a show where the juror has some context for your work,” he said.

“Untitled (Cold Air)” signifies Talbot’s reluctance to name a piece he feels he captures more than creates. “I do not want to give myself credit for creating the thing depicted, because all I did was see it and press a button,” he said. “For me, the real work of being a lens-based artist comes only before (by way of preparation, whatever the kind) and after (by way of editing) the moment the image is captured. Using ‘Untitled’ is my way of saying, ‘I’m not responsible for what you are seeing here.’ Using the parenthetical title is my way of cataloging the subject matter so we don’t have a mess of untitled works.”

The piece reflects his interest in the relationship between photography and language, detailed in his recent book project which combines his images with a longform prose passage he wrote. “I felt like this was a pairing in which the text brought out the reality in the photograph, and vice versa,” he said. The piece, like the centennial salon, captures the importance of memory as it informs the present.