December Docent Tour
Written By Molly Evans
On Saturday December 7th, UMOCA’s docent, Christina Burns, hosted a tour of the Utah Biennial: Mondo Utah exhibition. A small, intimate group of eight including a family of four as well as four students viewed the artworks as the snow gracefully set in the city. The docent tours are designed around themed pieces from the exhibition in a way that creates an interactive tour where guests ask questions and discuss their personal interpretation of the artwork.
As the tour began, Christina lead the group through each piece explaining the artwork, artists, as well as the deeper meaning of the piece. At first, the tour group was timid and did not feel comfortable speaking about their thoughts. It was not until we reached Annie Kennedy’s artwork that the conversation began to develop. In her exhibition, Kennedy displays two quilts titled Safety Hers/Woman’s 72 Hour Emergency Kit and Safety His/Man’s 72 Hour Emergency Kit with patchworks of different tools and material goods inside the quilt. As Burns explained about the artwork you could see the concentration of the tour group with a slight flicker of curiosity in each of their eyes. An middle-aged man was the first to speak saying that he perceived the quilts to be a messy person and clean, while one of the student’s thought the quilts represented both the though process of the left and right side of the brain, and one of the younger girls envisioned the quilts representing two opposite personalities. Each member of the tour discussed each interpretation of the artwork and was able to correlate to the true meaning of the piece with their interpretation.
As the tour progressed forward the audience members felt more comfortable expressing their ideas about the artworks on display. When the tour stopped and dissected the multiple paintings of Jesus by J. Kirk Richards, ideas and discussion began to slowly erupt from each tour member. The artwork named Untitled has multiple paintings and sizes of the one of the most famous religious figures, Jesus Christ. Burns explained the piece to tour members and then asked which painting they connected with the most. Each person connected with a different portrait and had a personal interpretation of why this particular portrait of Jesus resonated with them.
The tour allowed different groups of people to listen and converse about the artworks in the exhibition in a related atmosphere. As the protective walls of shyness slowly faded away, audience members freely discussed their opinions with no interruptions or objections. By creating an open discussion in the docent tour allowed audience members to interact with the artworks and hear different opinions of other people in the Salt Lake community. In this particular instant artwork united two different groups of people to have a peaceful discussion about their interpretation and thoughts, showing that our community and society are able have open discussions through contemporary art.