Traveling Exhibit Program provides Utahns access to high-quality art

Story and slideshow by JORDAN SENTENO

According to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Traveling Exhibit Program (TEP) delivers high-quality, professional exhibits to numerous educational and nonprofit organizations, including underserved communities. The exhibits travel to museums, colleges, universities, community galleries, arts and cultural centers and libraries.

TEP Coordinator Fletcher Booth said the program is particularly important to rural communities where access to high quality, original art is limited. The exhibits nurture understanding of diverse art forms and cultures, promote creativity and encourage cultural activities in local communities. The program also provides artists a way to showcase their artwork, gain public recognition and increase the value of their art.

Laura Durham, who does marketing and communication for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, said, “The Traveling Exhibition Program is one of the more far-reaching programs we have. It takes visual art to all the regions in the state of Utah, including a lot of schools and community centers that don’t get to see very much artwork.” She added, “The kids especially get very attached to the exhibits when they come to their schools and they hate to see them go. We provide educational materials for the teachers so the kids can interact with the artwork in a meaningful way.”

TEP aims to provide meaningful arts experiences by including educational components that teachers can download and use. The materials vary from exhibit to exhibit. For example, the Design Arts Utah exhibit provides two documents called “Why Teach Art?” and “Looking at Art.” They discuss why art is important and how to look at art in different ways.

“It [TEP exhibits] is the one thing that students will stand and talk about,” said Rhonda Harrison, principal of Fillmore Elementary School, in an interview at Hogle Zoo. “We have seen a lot of conversations about why they think it is drawn or painted. Students look forward to the art work coming [the zoo] once or twice a year.”

Every year, Hogle Zoo sponsors the World of the Wild, which showcases artwork of animals and the wild. According to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the goal of the exhibit “is to bring together the works of serious artists who are interested in displaying their view of wild animals, plants and places with which we share our world.”

According to a press release, “by highlighting animals and plants in the wild, this exhibition strives to educate viewers on the challenges faced by artists and techniques used when depicting animals. Additionally, this exhibition strives to draw public awareness to and increase appreciation for the animals and fragile ecosystems depicted.”

The companion curriculum, “Stamp Out Extinction,” “encourage[s] students to examine wild animals in their community that may be endangered or approaching extinction.” Teachers can help students use printmaking techniques to create posters that promote animal conservations.

Rose M. Milovich, preservation manager and exhibition program director at Utah State University Special Collections and Archives, said, “Having the opportunity to see and study original artworks from cultural, aesthetic and technical standpoints can really encourage creative/critical thinking and doing.” Milovich, who was at the zoo, added, “This kind of encouragement can happen for anyone at any age. Our world needs people who can think creatively – people who can examine the work and find solutions to all that faces us.”

Each year, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums curates about 20 traveling exhibits that feature many different mediums, processes and styles. For example, photographs that won prizes at the 2015 Utah State Fair are being shown at Grand County Library in Moab through April 26, 2016. The traveling exhibits are scheduled for one-month periods at $125 per exhibit and people can sign up for them online.

Fletcher Booth, as TEP’s coordinator, then creates a schedule. On average, he arranges about 80 exhibits each year.

Laura Durham said, “Not only does this provide the communities with a new show to look forward to, it’s also great for the artists who have work in the shows. Their audience is greatly expanded as a participant in these exhibitions and they can put all these locations on their resume of where individuals have viewed their artwork.”