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Thursday, March 28 • 11:00am - 12:00pm
Material Culture in Utah and the West: Insights from Decorative and Fine Arts Objects

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Everyday objects used in daily lives highlight and reflect our personal and material choices, tastes, and histories. Fine art and functional objects reveal not only individual and local styles, but embody the culture and social histories of entire communities and regions—whether geographic, religious, or anthropologically based. This panel, presented by the Decorative Arts SIG, will engage Utah-area experts in discussing traditional and non-traditional fine and decorative arts of Utah and the West.

Leslie Anderson of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will explore art of the American West and objects created in other regions in her talk, "Challenging the Canon with the Permanent Collection: American and Regional Art at the UMFA." She will share curatorial strategies she developed for the chrono-thematic and diverse reorganization of the museum's American art collection.

Adrienne Decker from the Utah Division of Arts & Museums delves into the Utah Folk Arts Program, a state program that features a permanent collection of art pieces created by living tradition bearers reflecting the many Native, occupational, and ethnic cultures living in urban and suburban Utah. Her talk, "This Is Our Place: Utah's Traditional Arts Landscape," looks at the ways in which the Utah Folk Arts collection provides a dynamic snapshot of the state's cultural landscape, contributing to an understanding of the folk forms and traditional lifeways of the Intermountain West.

The final speaker, Richard Oman, former curator of the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, will present a paper written by Josh Probert, from Brigham Young University's Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, who is unable to attend the conference. In the paper, "Mormon Iconography in the Decorative Arts as a Strategy of Identity during the Nineteenth Century," Probert examines objects made by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in relationship to the transatlantic world from which they emigrated. By using such objects as Connecticut shelf clocks, medals produced by Tiffany & Co., and beehive iconography, Probert shows the ways in which nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints navigated their often-paradoxical position as insiders and outsiders in the American West.

These three dynamic presentations will shed light on how the environs of the West and the historic context of human interaction with this unique region have shaped the artistic output of fine and decorative artists.

Learning Objective
  • To gain a better familiarity of underrepresented arts and artists in the region

avatar for Katie Monroe

Katie Monroe

Program Coordinator for Special Projects, Association of Research Libraries

Kathy Woodrell

Library of Congress


Richard Oman

Richard Oman has lectured many times at Brigham Young University (BYU) on Mormonism and the arts, as well as consulted with the BYU Museum of Art. For many years, he also lectured on Mormon Art to art history honors classes at the University of Utah. Oman served as the Senior Curator... Read More →

Leslie Anderson

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Adrienne Decker

Utah Division of Arts & Museums

Thursday March 28, 2019 11:00am - 12:00pm MDT
Grand America Hotel: Milano (3rd Floor) 555 Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT, 84111