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Friday, June 14, 2013

Artists Carl Oelerich & Heidi Moller Somsen Exhibitions @ Salt Lake City Arts Council (SLC: June 21 - Aug 2)


Salt Lake City--The human figure, as depicted in peasant farmers or as a body in motion, is the theme of the latest exhibition at the Finch Lane Gallery. Silver gelatin photographs by Carl Oelerich and mixed media and ceramics by Heidi Moller Somsen are featured in adjacent galleries, opening with an artists’ reception on Friday, June 21 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The show continues through August 2 and is open for the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll on Friday, July 19 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Carl Oelerich presents his photographs from a decade-long project documenting the guajiros of western Cuba. Guajiros are peasant farmers who are the agricultural backbone of Cuba in their economically-challenged countryside; they farm by hand, without use of machinery. The photographs depict the resilient and proud guajiros, the challenges under which they work in tobacco fields, to the simple wood houses in which they live.

Oelerich’s silver gelatin photography technique is intentional. “Just as the guajiros farm in a traditional fashion, the photographs are made in a traditional manner,” said Oelerich. “I develop the black and white film much as it was 100 years ago and the photographs are hand printed. At no point has there been a digital influence as I prefer traditional methods over modern technology.”

Oelerich’s recent exhibitions include a solo show at the Gallery at Library Square in 2010 titled, Cuba, Yesterday and Today; and Red Alert! War and Peace, a group show in 2005 at the Berkeley Art Center. He has been honored by the International Photography Awards with photographic essays, winning first place in 2004 and second place in 2007.

Heidi Moller Somsen’s mixed media and ceramics examine the human figure in motion from an intuitive point of view. “Sinews, ligaments, muscle, bone, brain stem, neurons, veins, and tendons. Inertia versus movement. Flight, fight, or freeze. To understand my work as I make it, I need to experience it physically. Using my own body, I begin with a performance,” said Somsen. This performance includes moving into a “serpentine figure” in which the body spirals around a central axis, similar to Michelangelo’s “Victory.” From this stance Somsen creates her art, either through digital photography or a ceramic piece that reflects the motion she has experienced.

The serpentine figure depicts harnessed energy rather than an inert state of being. A serpentine figure is one that is either contorting to escape, or winding up to battle. Somsen is interested in the energy and the anxiety held within these figures and what is going on beneath the surface. The resulting artistic piece can be an extruded rope of clay or the drawn line on a photograph. Her love of material and their differences is expressed as well, as she combines clay, wax, wood, paper, and paint sticks.

Somsen’s most recent exhibitions include a two-person show at Phillips Gallery in 2013 and a 2011 solo show titled, Grafted. She has worked as an instructor at the Visual Art Institute for 15 years, was a former adjunct instructor at the University of Utah, and currently teaches at Eastmont Middle School.

Who:               Artists Carl Oelerich and Heidi Moller Somsen
What:              Finch Lane Gallery exhibitions
When:             June 21 through August 2, 2013
Where:           Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane in Reservoir Park

Finch Lane Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and during monthly gallery strolls from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. For additional information, contact the Salt Lake City Arts Council, 801.596.5000 or visit www.slcgov.com/arts.

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