It was a cold night when I passed by bright multicolored lights and empty tables with open flames. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, the Urban Art Gallery is located somewhere far in the gateway to Salt Lake City. It looks like a small uncluttered place from the outside. Walking through the doors proved me wrong. I was going there to see “Sonder,” an exhibition by artist and photographer Essie Shaw in Salt Lake City. I left understanding how to better support local art and artists.
diversified and weak
“special, noun”. – Realize that every random bystander lives a life as lively and complex as yours. The pieces in the exhibition highlighted the unique individuality of each artist, but also forced the viewer to reflect on the lives of others that always occur alongside our individual and subjective experience.
Each artist’s portrayal of the word sonder was different, which manifested itself in the use of vastly different materials and themes in each artwork. Emma Goldgar’s paintings “Sonder I” and “Sonder II” depicted a single observer in focus watching several horrific figures. Representing an alternative to the group, these characters had blurred edges and undefined features. Goldgar’s approach revealed how we are often the center of our universe, while others seem to be less defined than we are.
Cat Palmer’s pieces followed a mixed media style, mixing old words and photographs on small plates. The old photographs connected contemporary artwork to other people’s pasts, making it a kind of collective experience.
Melissa “Rino” Alvarez’s photorealistic black and white photo series focused on the detail and unique expression found in one person’s face. The light they shed on the individual reflects a commitment and interest in seeing individuals as they are.
Individual and group experience
The Sonder experience is one we all should have more often. It is a reminder of how diverse each one of us is, but also of how we are joined together by our common complexity. Each of us has a full life – influenced by social and cultural circumstances and personal conflict – and that experience connects us.
Art spaces are one way to influence that voice, to break belief in an all-knowing, individual point of view in which to understand the world and make art. Urban Arts Gallery does its part in keeping Sonder alive by displaying the work of these diverse and talented local artists in a way that is accessible to the public. That’s why art spaces like this should be supported, cultivated, and protected in any way possible.
Local artists have the opportunity to showcase their art at the Urban Art Gallery through Connect, a free and regular pop-up art gallery for visual artists. If you’re interested — and know who you are — then jump in and visit the Urban Arts Gallery website for more information on artist opportunities.
“Sonder” is on display at the Urban Arts Gallery through January 30. Entry is free and open to the public. The next exhibition exhibition “Daqat Our Blood” will be shown in February 2022.