The J. Willard Marriott Library and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts maintain significant holdings of immense value to researchers. In 2019, funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation helped the Marriott and UMFA initiate a series of three annual grants for “Landscape, Land Art and the American West,” to support University of Utah scholars interested in conducting original research using primary source material from the Marriott’s and UMFA’s holdings. The Library and Museum continue to facilitate original research and strive to identify and increase access to objects that will enhance student learning and foster innovative research and scholarship for University faculty. The following projects were selected to expand collections-based teaching, learning, and research across campus. Watch presentations from the awardees during the Lunch Time Learning series here.
Learn about scholarly projects sponsored by the Marriott and UMFA with the Collections Engagement Grant:
Dr. Abrahamson will conduct research in the UMFA and Marriott collections to lay the foundation for a chapter in a book project that examines the architectural history of organized labor movements in the United States. During the fall semester, Abrahamson will supplement his archival research with a series of field studies at key sites in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana to expand his findings on the union halls and labor lyceums that were constructed across the Intermountain region during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
With graduate research assistant Kelly O’Neill, Department of Geography, and undergraduate research assistant Alfredo Contreras, Film and Media Studies, Dr. Hollenberg will research the U collections and conduct site visits in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico to consider the desert landscapes that appear in art by Isamu Noguchi and Patrick Nagatani. The project examines how subjects like the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, nuclear warfare and testing, and the explosion of popular extraterrestrial narratives as well as “alien” others during the mid-twentieth century intersect in the artists’ work.
Professor Wright will produce a body of photographic work focused on the west desert landscape, including Stansbury Island and the Skull Valley region. Her project is informed by present-day and historical land use issues and early landscape photography’s role in furthering the project of American manifest destiny. Wright will use a large-format view camera and create in-camera collages based on maps, texts, and objects from the UMFA and Marriott collections, fusing archival documentation with present-day site visits to the locations depicted in primary source materials.
This project expands on Dr. Curbelo González’s earlier collaboration with the UMFA in which her students composed music inspired by artwork in the Museum’s permanent collection. In this iteration, doctoral students will conduct in-depth research incorporating the Marriott’s primary source materials to lend context to new compositions. The project will culminate in a series of recordings highlighting not only the finished musical pieces but documenting the artistic process of incorporating the collections into the compositions.
This award supports a course collaboration focused on Afrofuturism co-taught by Dr. Rudds and co-investigator Dr. Elisabet Curbelo González. Multimedia artist Alisha B. Wormsley will visit campus for a brief residency to compose an Afrofuturist film set in Salt Lake County incorporating material from the UMFA and Marriott collections. Interested in the narrative and sounds of migration, modernity, and social movements, Rudds and Curbelo González’s project asks how Black Utahns imagined the future for themselves in the 19th and 20th centuries and how they might continue to inject fanciful and strategic ideas into Utah’s culture, policy, and technological landscape to ensure a space for diversity beyond 2021.
MFA Seminar for Painting and Drawing, Community Art, Photography, and Ceramics graduate students will conduct research using material from UMFA and Marriott Library to explore what “A Sense of Place” means in historical and individual contexts, culminating in a campus exhibition of the work produced during the semester.
The Once Upon a Time State of the School of the State: Constructions and Entanglements of Landscapes, Bodies, and the Arts on the University of Utah Campus, circa 1970
Along with two student research fellows, this project will conduct a performance-centered approach to archival materials using collage, publication, and workshop methodologies that explores the University of Utah during the volatile period of the 1970s.
The project seeks to engage refugee and immigrant youth in discovering the rich contributions and histories of immigrants in Utah by exploring the UMFA and Marriott collections and developing photoshoots featuring community members to relate their own stories, cementing an ongoing partnership between the School of Social and Cultural Transformation and Youth Voices at the University of Utah Neighborhood Center’s Harland Community Center.
Highlighting parallels between William Bartram’s 18th-century natural history book and 21st-century conceptual artist Mark Dion’s work, Swanstrom will work with a graduate student assistant to develop a web platform exploring emotional responses that appear in early American writing on the natural environment; the platform will permit users to conduct similar literary searches.
Building a Method for a Comparative Iconography of Pacific Islanders and Native Americans in Utah: Illuminating Shared Experiences
Comparative cross-examination of symbology and visual motifs in material culture that builds on the unique histories of Pacific Islander and Native American communities in Utah from the late 19th century onwards, culminating in an online platform where representative communities can engage with the collections.
Hoffmann’s student-directed project will use multi-disciplinary methodologies inspired by critical thinkers in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to probe the American West. The group will produce a limited-edition book and film based on their findings.
Graham will work with Patrick Durka, MFA, Art Department Chair at Stansbury High School, Reilly Jensen, MA History, MFA Community-Based Art Education candidate, Art in the Community T.A., University of Utah ART 3550 and Stansbury High School students to develop a site-specific art curriculum for Stansbury High students, using UMFA and Marriott collections as primary source material for creating artwork and instruction on the cultural ecology of the Great Basin.