Zoo, Arts & Parks Blog
A Broader Spectrum of Perspective: Recognizing Gabriella Huggins
Huggins is the after school digital media arts mentor for Spy Hop
Productions. Her main program is Sending
Messages—“a storytelling podcast created and entirely produced by incarcerated
youth. Gabriella’s nominator said of the
program, “Under Gabriella’s lead Sending Messages has expanded to a vehicle
that hopes to inform current policy reform, improve access to high quality
step-down resources, and progress toward a restorative justice framework.”
to the sending messages program, Gabriella also works with marginalized youth through the multimedia programs SpyHop offers. Gabriella has directed and co-direced two
award winning documentaries, was a featured speaker at TEDx Park City, and has
been heavily involved in Salt Lake County nonprofits. Gabriella is, in the words of her nominator,
“A skilled facilitator and forward thinking advocate, [who] strives to provide
her students with the tools to think critically and the esteem to express
Here is more about our Outstanding Emerging Arts Professional.
When did you fall in
love with the arts?
I’ve always been an avid reader, finger
painting and crafting are some of the most vivid memories I have of childhood,
and I have been dancing consistently since junior high. I am always walking
around with headphones in, listening to podcasts and music, and I spend most of
my weekends on the couch watching movies. I can’t pinpoint a specific moment
when I realized art was important to me, but Spy Hop and my time dancing at
West High School played a major role in shaping the creator within me. My Spy
Hop mentors and dance teacher were excellent examples of what was possible as a
working artist. They were always passionate and encouraging and taught me to
be a critical consumer and creator.
How have you seen the
positive effects of the arts in your life or in the Salt Lake County?
Personally, engaging with the arts has
equipped me to articulate my own perspectives. Every time I see or hear something
from another community, from a person unlike me or a place I am unfamiliar
with, I try to accept what I’m experiencing with an open mind. Art forces me to
think about why I loved a piece, what I learned from a piece, what I hated
about a piece, and what I can create in response. My curiosity, my willingness
to talk to people I disagree with and try to understand, my interest in walks
of life foreign to my own, comes from my exposure to diverse types of art from
What do you imagine
the arts community could look like in Salt Lake?
Salt Lake is a very interesting place
artistically. There are great venues like Diabolical Records, there are
dance performances on a regular basis, and zine and art pop-ups where newer or
freelance artists are creating space for themselves to share their work
locally. We have some great art institutions here as well that are bringing
international and national works to this place. Unfortunately, there seem to be
gaps that exist; who can see art, and whose art is being seen? Much of the
publicly accessible work here, even in smaller galleries, is safe, sanitized,
very palatable. Art should be accessible to many people and sometimes the
easiest way to make that happen is to create uncontroversially. However, I
would love to see art here exist on a broader spectrum of experience and
perspective, especially in our galleries and museums.
What are some steps
for getting there?
I go back to this idea of exchange. Art is
created for conversation and there is so much being created here that the
larger community doesn’t get to see, so much that is missing in our local
conversations. Our established institutions should be highlighting what’s
happening in those blind spots, especially since we live in a place centered
around a sense of community. Our community artists should shape our art
landscape, unapologetically and authentically. It would be great if art that
was commissioned around the city was a way to employ younger or up-and-coming
artists to contribute, from murals to public statues. It’d be incredible if
galleries were more intentional about reaching out to artists working
underground here and inviting them to share their work on a main stage.
How has your work
impacted the Salt Lake community?
The best and most tangible impact I am having
on my community is the quality time spent with these students to create pieces
they can share on a platform others in their community can engage with.
My job is the best because I work in a place where teens show up for a new
programming, skeptical and so aloof, and leave two hours later, smiling and
laughing and thankful and making plans for what they’ll do if they can come
back again. It’s exciting to work with young people who are stoked on a camera
they’ve never used before, or energized by the finished product of a radio play
they edited. I am proud to help some of these students escape the sharper edges
and darker corners of their lives through puppet-film-making and stop motion
animation. The environment Spy Hop provides is one that changes attitudes and
helps us connect person-to-person, mentor-to-student, in a way that builds
trust and encourages positivity, self-reflection, and excitement about the
arts. That’s important in its potential to foster bigger and better things in
young people, to encourage them to imagine what they can do and then attempt to
complete something original. That’s agency, and agency is something we need our
young people to have, to know they have power to do things that enhance and progress
the world they live in.
What energizes you in
your work? What is your purpose?
Working with young people is energizing. Young
people are often misunderstood and written off as uncaring, uninteresting, or
unknowing. I learn things from my students every day, and it gives me a lot of
hope as our global community grows, climate insecurity worsens, and economic
disparities continue to pose challenges. When I was young, I benefited
immensely from having many caring adults around me who set healthy boundaries,
taught me the power of personal responsibility, and encouraged me to pursue the
things I cared about through direct action. Mentorship is not something all
youth benefit from, and I’m lucky to have grown up around creatives who
inspired me to explore myself and the world around me through creative
exchange. Community organizing is a creative endeavor, critical thinking is a
creative endeavor, gaining self-esteem is a creative endeavor. My purpose in
this work is to help students understand their influence and place in the
context of this complicated world, whatever that means to them, to find
innovative solutions to the issues they face personally and the issues they
want to influence in the world.
We are honored to present Gabriella with our second Outstanding Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professional award.
Gabriella was interviewed by Rachel Cook.
Rachel Cook is a Masters Candidate with SUU Arts Administration and a member of the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals advisory committee. She loves art, the mountains, and spends her spare time with her husband.
Learn more about the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals Recognition Program.
A Ticket Tuesday Tour to UMOCA
Congrats to the winners of this giveaway from the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art: Vickie in SLC and Maria in Taylorsville!
Stay tuned for the next ZAP Ticket Tuesday opportunity.
Four Months and Counting: UMFA Readies for Reopening
The Queens of Persia at the Feet of Alexander
the Great (The Tent of Darius), a
seventeenth-century silk and wool French tapestry styled after a Charles LeBrun
painting, will be new on view in the European galleries when the Utah Museum of
Fine Arts (UMFA) reopens August 26.
The usually picture-perfect galleries of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) look more like
artists’ studios these days, with preparations in full swing for the Museum’s
late August reopening.
On a recent morning, metal carts and gurneys sat
piled with tools and gallon paint cans as the Museum’s preparator readied empty
cases for new objects in the Pacific art exhibition. Nearby in the modern and
contemporary gallery, collections staffers carefully mounted three Seer Bonnets by Angela Ellsworth, an
artist with Salt Lake City ties. Downstairs in collections storage, a guest conservator
assessed, cleaned and treated paintings, including Utah artist Alfred
Lambourne's A Nook of the Desert
(1875–1876), a new acquisition for the American and regional galleries.
UMFA conservator Robyn Haynie assesses Seer Bonnet (2010) by Angela Ellsworth
before installing it in the Museum’s modern and contemporary gallery. The
object, one of three such bonnets that will be on view, is made of 17,214 pearl
corsage pins, fabric, and steel.
A guest conservator assesses a painting from the
Museum’s collection to help staff develop a treatment plan.
The UMFA has been closed since mid-January 2016 for
replacement of the building’s vapor barrier, essential for efficiently
maintaining appropriate humidity levels. With that work successfully completed,
staff are busy with the most comprehensive reinstallation of the permanent
exhibitions since the Marcia and John Price Museum Building opened in 2001.
What will you see when UMFA galleries reopen the last
weekend of August? Nearly half the artworks will be new on view, including not
only recent contemporary and western art acquisitions but also a giant
17th-century French tapestry, works from the Museum’s African collection, Chinese
ceramics and more. Most galleries will be reorganized along fresh storylines—thanks
to months of curatorial research and re-envisioning—to give you new, more
engaging ways to experience and interpret the objects.
The Pacific Island permanent exhibition, for
instance, has been reconsidered under the guidance of a former curator from the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, who is also curating the Museum’s new gallery of
African art. The modern and contemporary gallery will have a larger footprint
and initially feature women artists from the collection exclusively. The
American and regional galleries, reorganized around the theme of westward
expansion, have been relocated from upstairs to a prominent first-floor gallery,
so that visitors will see western art soon after they enter the building.
UMFA curator Whitney Tassie (foreground) and
collections staff install British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Periphery (2013) in the modern and
Conservator Robyn Haynie and guest curator
Virginia-Lee Web evaluate objects for the Museum’s new African gallery.
Meanwhile, curators and educators are collaboratively
rewriting every wall and label text in the permanent galleries, seeking to
expose viewers to the most current art historical research while encouraging
them to explore their own interpretations of these works.
Aside from the reimagined permanent exhibitions, two new temporary
shows will also be on view. HERE, HERE
by Las Hermanas Iglesias will debut in UMFA’s new ACME Lab, a flexible space
for creative exploration and exhibitions housed in the Museum’s Emma Eccles
Jones Education Center. Contemporary artist Spencer Finch’s site-specific
installation in the Great Hall will also premiere.
So mark your calendar for the UMFA’s public reopening
celebration, featuring talks, tours, films, a dance party and more on Saturday,
August 26, and Sunday, August 27. (Donors, VIPs and members will enjoy a sneak
preview Friday, August 25.)
In the meantime, join us for an artist talk, film, ACME
Session, Third Saturday for
Families, or other exciting program
this summer. Visit umfa.utah.edu, sign up for our e-newsletter, or
follow us on Facebook
or Instagram to keep
up with the latest.
See you soon!
Mindy Wilson is the UMFA’s marketing and communications
Explore Physics in the Air with Discovery Gateway’s SkyCycle!
you ever wanted to soar in the sky with the greatest of ease? No, it’s not a
flying trapeze, it’s the newest exhibit from Discovery Gateway Children’s
Museum- the SkyCycle!
April 22, kids and adults alike can explore
principles of counterbalance and center of gravity while taking a thrilling
ride on a 30-foot track. The SkyCycle exhibit has come out all the way from
Orlando, Florida and was built by a company who produces rides for Disney
Members of Discovery Gateway
Children’s Museum can get a special sneak preview of SkyCycle on April 21 from
2-5pm. They can enjoy free rides for the entire afternoon.
The public opening of the SkyCycle
will be the following day on Saturday, April 22. Starting with a ribbon-cutting
ceremony and special guest speakers at 10:30 am, there will be music, prizes,
giveaways, food trucks, and educational activities.
Younger children and their
families are encouraged to attend the opening event on April 22 and enjoy a
Strider Bike Adventure Zone from 11 am – 2 pm inside the museum. Strider Adventure Zones are
safe and friendly “Ride and Play” demo areas that encourage kids of all
abilities from 18 months to 5 years to test ride a Strider Balance Bike and
play with other kids, while improving and developing fundamental bike handling
The SkyCycle is made possible through generous support from the
museum’s community partners, Kid to Kid stores and The Gateway. “Kid to Kid is delighted to sponsor this new
exhibit that will bring the love of physics to children and families across the
Wasatch front and beyond,” says President of BaseCamp Inc. Brent Sloan. “The SkyCycle is a unique, playful and
educational element,” said, Jenny Cushing, VP of Leasing for Vestar, “and we are proud to sponsor and have this
attraction at The Gateway.”
Kristin Jahne is
the Marketing Coordinator at Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. When she’s
not fixing member issues or analyzing data, you can find her interacting with
patrons around the museum or helping plan events for DG
The SkyCycle will be open during regular
museum hours: 10am-6pm on Monday – Thursday, 10am-7pm on Friday – Saturday, and
noon-6pm on Sunday. SkyCycle rides are $5 for regular
walk-up or $3 with museum admission, and the first ride is always free for
Discovery Gateway membership holders.
Can't Stop the Ticket Tuesday Beat
Winners have been chosen for this Ticket Tuesday giveaway from The Grand Theatre. Congrats to Mckenna and Douglas in Salt Lake City!