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A Broader Spectrum of Perspective: Recognizing Gabriella Huggins

April 26, 2017

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outstanding emerging arts professional

Gabriella 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.” 

In addition 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 themselves artistically.” 

gabriella huggins 1

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.

gabriella huggins with community members

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 diverse places. 

gabriella quote

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.

gabriella huggins at work

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. 

gabriella huggins 2

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.

gabriella huggins 3

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.

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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. 


Ticket Tuesday Tour to UMOCA

April 25, 2017

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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

April 25, 2017

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the queens of persia

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

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.

guest conservator

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.

curator whitney tassie (foreground) and collections staff install british artist

UMFA curator Whitney Tassie (foreground) and collections staff install British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Periphery (2013) in the modern and contemporary gallery. 

robyn haynie and guest curator virginia-lee web

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, sign up for our e-newsletter, or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with the latest.

See you soon!

-Mindy Wilson

Mindy Wilson is the UMFA’s marketing and communications director. 

Explore Physics in the Air with Discovery Gateway’s SkyCycle!

April 20, 2017

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Have 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! 


Opening 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 World!

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 skills. 

balance bikes

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

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 members. 

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.  

Ticket Tuesday to Hairspray

April 18, 2017

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Winners have been chosen for this Ticket Tuesday giveaway from The Grand Theatre. Congrats to Mckenna and Douglas in Salt Lake City!

Ticket Tuesday with Mountain West Ballet

April 11, 2017

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Winners have been chosen for this giveaway from Mountain West Ballet.  

Congrats to: Amy W. in SLC, Ingrid M. in Sandy, and Erin W. in West Jordan!

Stay tuned for more ZAP Ticket Tuesday opportunities.

The Wonders of the Universe: Pygmalion Productions' SILENT SKY

April 05, 2017

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You could say that this production has been nearly 40 years in the making. Since I was 10 years old, and Carl Sagan’s Cosmos opened by eyes to the wonders of the universe and the endless beauty it holds, I’ve been hooked. Though science in general has always interested me, astronomy and physics have been the field I would always come back to when I had a hunger for more science in my diet. Books like A Brief History of Time, Coming of Age in the Milky Way, and The Elegant Universe always inspire me to new perspectives, though I’ll be the first to admit that I will sometimes get lost at times.

director mark fossen at rehearsal

That getting lost, though, is part of the joy and wonder of it all for me: the knowledge that the universe is bigger and weirder than I can hold in my head is a great comfort. I find a true sense of awe is a lovely accompaniment to life's daily worries.

Silent Sky

What a joy it was, then, to find Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky. Gunderson is a fantastic new voice in American theatre, and to find this gem of a play highlighting the unsung contributions of early female pioneers in astronomy was like finding the golden ticket. I fell in love immediately with her story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who worked at Harvard Observatory in the early 20th century and nothing less than led us to finding the size of the universe. Prevented by her sex from even peering through a telescope, she pored through photographs and numbers as a “human computer” and found a pattern no one had ever seen. 

silent sky in rehearsal

After finding this play and falling in love, what better home could there be for it than Pygmalion Productions? When Teresa Sanderson mentioned to me they were doing a season looking at women in history I knew Silent Sky would be a perfect fit. Pygmalion Productions creates performances that share the human experience through the eyes of women, and this seemed like a way to tell not only a story of women in history but to talk about the current work still to be done encouraging and enabling young women to enter STEM fields.  

silent sky in table work

Heart-filling and inspiring, and with a deep sense of wonder, Silent Sky brilliantly marries science and the human heart. I am so excited to be part of the Pygmalion Productions team bringing it to Salt Lake audiences.

-Mark Fossen

Mark Fossen (Director) is thrilled to return to PYG after appearing in 2008 production of Sordid Lives. Local directing credits include The Glass Menagerie, The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, Our Town, Skin of our Teeth, and A Streetcar Named Desire at The Grand Theatre, Bellwether and Don Juan Comes Back from the War at Westminster College, Stage Kiss and The Fables Project at Wasatch Theatre Company; The Children’s Hour at The University of Utah; August: Osage County for Utah Repertory & Silver Summit; Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and As You Like It at Davis Arts Council; and An Ideal Husband at Pinnacle Acting Company. He serves on the boards of The Grand Theatre and the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, and is an adjunct instructor at Westminster College and the University of Utah. He is a graduate of the University of Utah and is currently completing his MFA at the University of Idaho.

Ticket Tuesday with NOVA SLC

April 04, 2017

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Winners have been chosen for this giveaway from NOVA Chamber Music Series. Congratulations to Rachel in Magna and Amanda W. in SLC!

Starving Students at SLAC

March 28, 2017

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As an undergraduate student studying Vocal Performance, there were a few things I did religiously: Practice, homework, more practice, and stare at my bank account sadly as posters for the newest opera production at Pittsburgh Opera were plastered all over my dorm building. I knew that seeing professionals doing what I wanted to do was necessary, but it wasn’t possible on my meager pennies as a student. Sure, they had student tickets, but that was just half-off of the normal ticket price. Still just too expensive. 

starving students group

When I started working at Salt Lake Acting Company a few years ago, I thought about those times in my education. How could I help the theatre students around here to have better access to the professional plays at SLAC? Cynthia Fleming, SLAC’s Executive Artistic Director, has always been very dedicated to making theatre available to all age groups so we sat down to discuss how to make it even BETTER for theatre students in Utah. And voila! The Starving Student Artist Pass was born!

starving students for puppet class

The Starving Student Artist Pass is a $32 ticket package for current theatre students that includes one ticket to each of SLAC’s mainstage plays during the season. (SATURDAY’S VOYEUR and our annual children’s show are available as add-ons at a discounted rate!) Because of incredibly crazy schedule that theatre students have with rehearsals and other events all year long, the Pass also includes the flexibility to choose any night of a performance during the run with guaranteed entry. Starving Students never need to call ahead to get into a show. Even if it’s sold out, we’ll get you in. Guaranteed. 


There’s MORE!

winter masterclass

Also included in the Pass is access to masterclasses with visiting theatre artists including directors, actors, playwrights, designers, etc. FOR FREE. I mean, as a student, I know that this opportunity would have made me giddy with joy. These masterclasses could easily cost over $100 in cities like New York and I am so thrilled that our Starving Students get to experience them for free. Recent masterclasses have included short play composition and staging with playwright Julie Jensen and director Tracy Callahan, puppet work with Glenn and Linda Brown, acting tips with actor April Fossen, and we are so excited to be providing a Q & A with HAND TO GOD playwright Robert Askins coming up in just a few weeks. 

starving students group 2

Now in its second year, we have more than doubled the number of our Starving Student Pass-holders. We have students from the University of Utah, Westminster, Salt Lake Community College, Utah State University, and even Idaho State University.

The thing that always strikes me the most when I interact with the Starving Students is what incredibly talented, smart, passionate people they are. In a climate where so much is at stake in the arts, I have no doubt that the future of these theatre artists is brighter than we could ever imagine. Their voice is loud and strong, and their creative prowess will produce truly inspirational things. I can’t wait to witness it all.

-Olivia Custodio

Olivia Custodio received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her Master of Music from the University of Utah. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she is still trying to figure out fry sauce. Olivia joined the SLAC family in 2014, working in the box office, assisting in audience communication and development. In 2016, she became SLAC's Development Manager. A local actress, you may have also seen her onstage in many productions including SATURDAY'S VOYEUR, ART DOG, STREETLIGHT WOODPECKER, I'LL EAT YOU LAST, and various New Play Sounding Series readings at SLAC.

Ticket Tuesday with Wasatch Theatre

March 28, 2017

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Congrats to Carli in Taylorsville! You are the winner of this giveaway to see Wasatch Theatre Company's DINNER by Moira Buffini. Stay tuned for more ZAP Ticket Tuesday opportunities!