Contemporary Reactions: Art is Not Always Pretty

Alyce Carrier’s Old Work, a recent exhibit at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, has caught the attention and curiosity of visitors. One local, Devin McPolin, heard of the museum’s existence and came to see what it held inside. He states that he rarely goes to art museums, but he was interested due to his significant other’s recommendation of UMOCA. McPolin, a college student, wandered around and came upon Carrier’s exhibit. “It can turn you away or grab your attention,” he says.

The artist’s style drew him in because it is “odd” and “not pretty.” McPolin explains that the exhibition’s art doesn’t fit the standard mold of other art styles. The people drawn in Carrier’s Old Work are shaped abnormally and portrayed in blacks, whites and browns. “The people drawn here aren’t normal people,” McPolin says.

“They are odd-shaped; it looks like a young kid’s drawing—like someone’s first drawing—but you know it’s not. It’s purposely done that way to depict these odd shapes. Even though you know it’s a human figure, it’s not depicted as a normal human being would be drawn.”

He talked about his fascination with non-traditional art style—or, as he likes to describe it, odd. McPolin is intrigued by Carrier’s wall art and her other artwork, such as her ceramics. Amused by the asymmetrical pottery, he describes how imperfect the pottery is, especially if it were sliced in half. Everything intrigued him, from the divots to the unique crookedness of it all. McPolin understood the exhibit through reading the artist’s description as well as understanding daily life. The emotion he felt was a strangeness due to the differences in each artwork, yet he related with them on an empathic level. “Like the artist said: ‘A hand on the shoulder depicts a different feeling if it’s from someone you love or a stranger,’” he says.

Alyce Carrier | VideoThe video, in particular, held his interest. He describes the characters in the video as acting out mundane daily tasks, but they portray these tasks from a different view—almost a little disgusting. The video invokes the emotions McPolin experienced in the exhibit, and he related the video to the mural on the wall. In the mural, the person drawn in black simply walks in without checking what the tiny circles are and panics at the last minute when they are waist deep in circles, whereas the person drawn in white investigates the tiny circles and wonders what they are before walking in. McPolin compares this dynamic to how people are when it comes to our daily routines. Some simply continue their lives without paying attention to what’s around them;  others are always curious, always looking, and notice what’s around them. “It’s strange—like the stranger’s hand on your shoulder—but not enough to make you freak out and run away,” he says. “It’s odd enough to make you ponder and wonder what’s going on and take a closer look.”

View Alyce Carrier’s Old Work in UMOCA’s Projects Gallery until January 14. For more information, visit –Krystal Linares