Shortly before the impact of COVID, Michael Christensen of West Valley City’s Utah Cultural Celebration Center/West Valley City Arts invited me to guest curate an exhibit – an exploration of different perspectives. Invited artists from the area as well as my own students contributed to the show.
Although social distancing meant there were few physical visitors, this became the inaugural exhibit for West Valley City Arts’ new online exhibition format – here is the link to the exhibit and our discussion of the art.
Here is what I wrote for the exhibit:
Whenever we engage with something new we come to the experience with our own baggage of assumptions. We may be open to new experiences, but we still have to confront this weight of preconceptions – sometimes this can be a challenge. How do we deal with this so we can be open to the full experience of new things? One philosopher of a hundred years ago, Heidegger, introduced ideas about how we can think in a new way – a process to think about our own thinking.
You come to a marvelous book, opened to the middle. This book is filled with amazing things, and as you explore the images and words on each page, you notice something. As you turn a page over to see something new, although the paper may be thin enough to see a little of the page freshly covered it still ends up hiding some of what you just saw moments before. In the process of revealing a new page, some parts of something else become freshly hidden.
This is somewhat like our own process of engaging new experiences. Some is fresh and new things are revealed, but in the very process some other things become newly hidden. This is not a bad thing – not at all.
What if some of those things newly hidden are things which won’t help us in the future? What if some of those newly hidden things are from the baggage of assumptions and preconceptions – ideas which we may have assumed were true but, in reality, were not? Then this process of revealing, as in the pages of that marvelous book, helps us move forward.
The artists invited to share their work have chosen things they have made which help us think – think about the assumptions we have, think about the preconceptions we carry, and even to think about the way we think. In sharing their work, these artists are also sharing tiny bits of who they are, the assumptions and preconceptions they hold themselves, and the way they think about their own thinking.
You are seeing glimpses of the pages of their own marvelous books – their own books of revelation.