“These fellowships are intensely competitive,” said Art Department Chair Gary Barton. “Jane and Bryan represent a long list of BYU alumni who have received this prestigious award over the years.”
For Hutchison (BFA ’13), whose work spans various mediums and formats— including photography, installation, sculpture, sound and video — the fellowship feels like a stamp of approval.
“It means your artwork is valuable and meaningful, and has some kind of salience or significance, at least to the juror,” Hutchison said.
Natasha Logan, deputy director ofCreative Time, a New York City-based public arts organization, served as this year’s Visual Arts Fellowship juror. Prior to her current role, Logan collaborated with respected artists in film, fine art and interactive technology.
“It was no small feat to select four artists from the broad range of truly compelling work, which included photography, design, sculpture and conceptual works exploring issues ranging from faith, sexual identity, family myths and narratives, to climate justice and migration,” Logan said.
Hutchison plans to use the award to complete art projects that he has started but have taken a backseat to personal and family responsibilities.
“My creative practice tends toward long-term, slow art projects,” Hutchison wrote in his fellowship application. “Some projects are long-lasting — they are time-based pieces, some are complex, some are research-intensive. The pieces I most want to complete are the most complicated on my list.”
The money Hutchison received will help him compensate assistants who have the technical and other expertise his projects require, or pay for the time he needs to research and learn the material himself.
For Christensen (BFA ’17), also a multidisciplinary artist, receiving the fellowship helps relieve the pressure of being a young artist navigating a career and providing for herself.
“It’s a huge honor, and in light of what’s going on in the world right now [with the COVID-19 pandemic], I definitely feel grateful to have that honor,” Christensen said. “In a sense I feel like, OK, I need to be making the most out of this gift — in the literal sense of the fellowship, but also just the gift of art and artmaking. It’s a very reflective time for me in thinking of what’s next.”
Christensen, who works full-time as the art studios director atSCERA, a local nonprofit dedicated to the arts, also recently completed a residency at theUtah Museum of Contemporary Art. Her closing exhibition, “Mapping It Out,” explores the physical and psychological environments we create for ourselves.
Christensen believes that the most beautiful thing about art is its potential to heal communities. On a personal level, she said that the process of making art creates a means to reflect, to slow down and to process.
“Then I think sharing that with others opens up dialogue — or maybe not even dialogue, maybe just even an experience, to feel, and to process and to reflect,” she said.
Similarly, Hutchison said that art offers an alternative way of experiencing something that doesn’t have to be tied to language, whether that takes the form of a visceral experience or an intellectual experience.
“I’ve been moved by a lot of art pieces that are pathetically poetic,” Hutchison said. “Maybe the gesture is absurd or futile in a sense, but the gesture or meaning still has importance. My artwork isn’t going to save the planet, but I do hope the gesture offers something of value to contribute as part of the human experience.”