Today, I’ve been working on the catalog. I can say without hyperbole that it will be an absolutely amazing take away from the festival and an example of the type of work to come as the Mormon Art Center blooms and continues long after the festival. For it, twenty-three artists are paired with twenty-three writers from disparate fields—an activist, a poet, a writer, a lawyer, a doctor, a composer, a psychologist, and a game warden, to name a few. These writers are responding to the work anyway they want. We gave them full creative control—they aren’t novice art historian’s writing Mormon art criticism. So, they are speaking from their own expertise developed out of their unique fields. And in speaking from their own perspective, the results that are trickling in, are fascinating, layered, insightful, nuanced, and smart. For example, here is Claire Åkebrand poem which is paired with Brian Kershisnik’s Death Suite of 2015.

Kershisnik’s Death Suite emerged from his trip to Slovenia and his genealogical work there. But Åkebrand took the concept of death and completely abandoned genealogy, which would have been perhaps too literal. Rather, she turned her response to Lazarus, and told the story of his four-day death and like the speaking dead in Kershisnik, she gave Lazarus a voice, to speak of his temporary death, even if the speaking ultimately isolated him, turned him into being seen as, “a door left ajar.”

For me, the poem paired with the prints makes both richer and more complex, like a good wine and artisan cheese (or maybe for our purposes, a tall glass of coke and warm pizza).

Laura Allred Hurtado