Rich with collaborative projects, innovative research, and powerful performances, the College of Fine Arts enjoyed a successful Spring 2015 semester. Join us in taking a look back at our students, alumni, and faculty’s news and achievements.

College-wide Achievments

Naomi Natale: The Art of Revolution
Artist and activist Naomi Natale of the One Million Bones Project came to campus to speak about art and social change for the annual David P. Gardner Lecture Series in collaboration with the College of Humanities. Featured in the Salt Lake Tribune and in Slug Magazine.

Courtesy of One Million Bones Project

Courtesy of One Million Bones Project

Dean Raymond Tymas-Jones, “Songs My Mother Taught Me”
As part of the School of Music’s Sundays @ 7, Dean Raymond Tymas-Jones performed a collection of songs from classic Negro spirituals to a full Libby Gardner Concert Hall. Featured in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Outstanding Seniors
Honoring the achievements of the graduating class of 2015, the outstanding seniors are selected by each academic unit to acknowledge their academic and artistic excellence.

Art & Art History

Mural class provides art backdrops for Cinderella
As part of Utah Ballet’s “Cinderella,” Professor Kim Martinez’s Mural class was commissioned to create the backdrops in a collaborative effort. The Lyric Opera Ensemble also used the backdrops for their production of Massenet’s “Cenrdrillon.” Featured by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Art & Activism
“Rethink, Reconnect, Rejuvenate” was the title of the socially-engaged art event held in collaboration with Earth Day. Led by Assistant Professor Wendy Wischer, the Art, Action, and the Environment course held signs of Utah photography to connect with community members in conversations about conservation and preservation. Featured in Catalyst Magazine, on KRCL’S Radioactive, and by the Huffington Post.


Utah Ballet presents “Cinderella”
As the centerpiece of the college-wide collaboration for “Cinderella,” the Department of Ballet’s steampunk fairytale graced the Kingsbury Hall stage for a weekend of stellar dancing, music, film clips, and art. Featured in the Salt Lake Tribune and Catalyst Magazine.

Photo by Brent Rowland

Photo by Brent Rowland

Senior Showcase
Bidding the graduating class a fond farewell, the Department of Ballet’s annual senior showcase allowed outgoing seniors the chance to grace the Hayes Christensen Theatre stage one last time.

Film & Media Arts

Alumnus Matt Porwoll wins at Sundance
Following his work on Oscar-winning documentary “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” Porwoll also won the 2015 Sundance U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Cinematography for “Cartel Land.”

Famed Pixar director and producer speak on campus
Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera of Pixar spoke to a packed house at the UMFA to share insight about their upcoming film “Inside Out.” Featured in Slug Magazine.

Modern Dance

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company collaboration
Local professional dance company Ririe-Woodbury recruited students within the Department of Modern Dance to perform in their SPRING SEASON production, allowing students professional experience and exposure.

Guest Artist: Dr. Ananya Chatterjea
The Department of Modern Dance hosted guest artist and professor Dr. Ananya Chatterjea for a lecture and performance on her work exploring social justice and art.

School of Music

Three Top Classical Performances
Snagging three of the 10 top classical performances by Salt Lake Magazine, the School of Music’s Barlow Bradford, Robert Breault, and Hasse Borup were each honored on the list. Salt Lake Magazine feature.

Miguel Chuaqui named new director of School of Music
Following a year tenure as interim director of the School of Music, Miguel Chuaqui, PhD was appointed to fill the position permanently.


The Threepenny Opera named one of Top Classical Performances
Salt Lake Magazine named the Department of Theatre’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera.” Salt Lake Magazine feature.

Performing Arts Deisgn Program ranked in nation’s top 5
Gaining recognition from OnStage blog for its excellent resources, the Performing Arts Design Program ranked fourth on their list.

Photo by Spencer Sandstrom

Photo by Spencer Sandstrom

3D printing technology meets theatre props
With the vision of faculty members Michael Horejsi and Kyle Becker and help from the Marriott Library, the 3D-printed statue bust for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” opened doors for students to experiment with technical design.   

The following is a copy of the graduating student address given during the College of Fine Arts Convocation Ceremony. Marcela Torres graduated with her degree in Art Studio (Sculpture) and Art History. She was also the Art Studio Outstanding Senior and will be attending graduate school at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago this coming Fall. 

More and more the arts are not just one isolated field of beauty and aesthetic.

Instead the arts is an apex of culture, technology, philosophy, history, language, science, and gender studies, all combined, reformulated and presented with a new poignant viewpoint that is able to capture the depth of our experience and thought as a human society.

For years before I became a student at the U, I worked on campus. Every year I watched the cycle of students begin the school year and then graduate at the end.

I told myself every year, someday. That’ll be you.

Photo by Island Photography

Photo by Island Photography

When I finally was able to attend school I felt like there was a literal fire lit inside of me. It was finally my turn, my time.

I took inspiration from my life’s experiences, but specifically my father. When we were young, he bred snakes and other reptiles. He taught us to love animals and the science behind life, but most of all he taught us each to respect our interests and ourselves.  As a society we cannot experience every aspect of life, but we can feel it through narratives of others. 

We have the title of “artist”, but to fully understand the complexity of our research and our abilities, it is much more fitting to create compound titles such as Interactive Engineer of interpretive Languages or Deconstruction Librarian of 20c textiles or Cognitive motion group therapist or Existential auditory and visual historian. These titles describe how each of the degrees within the fine arts is a uniquely complicated mix of ideas, knowledge, actions and presentation that evoke emotion and influence the perspective of the observer.

 A degree in the arts is an invitation to explore all the pre-existing categories of our world and find a way to represent their new connections with each other and their affect on us.  

Our projects range from traditional ideas of making to new technologies of electronics, Internet technologies, scientific processes and mechanical engineering to name of few.

Through the combination of our research and our projects we learned to problem solve, we learned to understand other people and their needs, we learned about management.

We learned how to research until we found the correct information, we learned how to make meaning, we learned how to make contacts and interpersonal relationships,

We learned about financials and all of these lessons can be applied to anything we may come across.  As a group we’ve become equipped to work in a diversity of fields, which will create a society where art drives creation.

Over the course of these last years we have learned to rein our thoughts and emotions into concise packages our audience can ingest and realize. We have learned many practical things that allow for us to be professionals but the most important things have been our personal emergences.

Within this group we can achieve the highest echelons of the arts, but this is not the only way we can impact society. Through our integration into all fields we have the utmost influence and ability to change our society into that of a well designed and understanding society that is embedded with the depth that the arts brings.   

As part of the University of Utah’s expanded effort for further civic engagement, the College of Fine Arts partnered with University Neighborhood Partners-Hartland (UNP Hartland) to create unique opportunities for artistic expression and exploration within its youth group. The University Neighborhood Partners program recognizes that the active collaboration between the University and our community enhances and drives diverse opportunities for learning, teaching, and research. 

Through this program, the Department of Theatre taught the course “Theatre for Social Action.” The premise was to focus on devising social action pieces with youth at the UNP Hartland Partnership Center located in the Glendale area. Focusing on generating dialogue with the youth by providing avenues for their voices and perspectives to be heard, the course helped foster understanding and awareness amongst a diverse community of young artists. From there, University students and the Hartland youth were guided through the process of creating community-engaged theatre pieces.

In my role, I have found that this reciprocal conversation allows youth and University students the opportunity to genuinely connect with each other as well as engage in the creative process. They are able to understand, on a deeper level, the greater entity to which they are contributing, and taking ownership of the world they share together. This model works because the resources fit the reality of the culture of reciprocal sharing and learning at UNP-Hartland

As part of a culmination of their combined efforts, the youth performed their social-action pieces for the community at the Sorenson Unity Center on April 14. They shared their stories, process, and passion for the subjects that were chosen. The confidence that emerged from both the University students and the youth was compelling.

“This was the most rewarding and challenging experience in my acting journey,” said Wendy Wilder, a Theatre for Social Action student.

The youth performed five pieces and shared public service announcement videos. The pieces challenged action in the areas of bullying, racism, freedom, identity, the meaning of home, socio-economics, and air pollution.

Photo courtesy of Kelby McIntyre-Martinez

Photo courtesy of Kelby McIntyre-Martinez

The Theatre for Social Action class would like to thank the Department of Theatre, the UNP Hartland Partnership Center, and the Sorenson Unity Center.

Written, devised, and created in the Theatre for Social Action Course

Hartland Youth : Freedom  

Freedom looks like a well-oiled machine
Freedom sounds like peaceful birds chirping

Freedom feels like the sun rising on a new day
Freedom tastes like a juicy apple
Freedom smells like clean air without any pollution
Freedom is not just for one group, but for all mankind! 

Hartland Youth : Air Pollution

Yo! Yes? Yo! Yes?
Five blocks away in my neighborhood is a plant that emits
air pollution day and night!
I see it when I wake, I see it on weekends!
Glendale, Glendale.
Lower, lower, lower still. Socioeconomics…
Yo! Yes? Yo! Yes?
Injustice, maybe, coincidental, not sure, perplexing, surely,
Just need the information, facts, facts, facts.
Yo! Yes?
Will you act?

SaltDanceFest is a two-week dance intensive hosted by the Department of Modern Dance that runs June 1-12 at the Marriott Center for Dance. This year's festival brings together internationally renowned dance artists and dance makers Paul Matteson, Sara Shelton Mann, Jesse Zaritt along with esteemed University of Utah faculty Eric Handman and Stephen Koester and SLC dance artist Molly Heller for two weeks of moving, collaborating, dance making and the lively exchange of ideas.

SaltDanceFest is excited to have these significant, influential artists in residence to share their unique and acclaimed artistic perspectives, and for their range and diversity of aesthetics and approaches to dance. SaltDanceFest, unique among dance festivals in the western United States, is committed to the exploration of the creative process in addition to contemporary technique and repertory work. With participants from around the country and the world, the workshop highlights and investigates the creative process and is designed to be a laboratory that nurtures and supports experimentation, exploration, curiosity, collaboration and the development of innovative choreography.

Participants work intimately with acclaimed artists, developing and exploring ideas in dance and choreography. Now in its fifth year, past artists at SaltDanceFest have included: Eiko & Koma, Chris Aiken, Angie Hauser, Teri and Oliver Steele, Marina Mascarell, Paul Selwyn Norton, Vickie Cortes, Kyle Abraham, Maura Keefe, Miguel Gutierrez, Netta Yerushalmy, Faye Driscoll, Zoe Scofield, Juniper Shuey, and Pavel Zuštiak.

There are several opportunities that are open to the public (non-participants). Many of them are free. See the full list below:

The workshop is housed at the University of Utah – a hub of dance pedagogy, performance and choreographic creation for the American West.

For more details, application information, and artist bios, visit

AuthorThe Finer Points