'The Art of Belonging': New Orem art museum focuses on multicultural experiences

The Melanie Bastian home near the Utah Valley University campus in Orem, which was donated to UVU, is home to the university's new museum of art.

The Melanie Bastian home near the Utah Valley University campus in Orem, which was donated to UVU, is home to the university's new museum of art. (Jay Drowns, UVU Marketing)

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OREM — Utah Valley University is launching its new museum of art by unveiling The Art of Belonging, an initiative that features dozens of artists of color in Utah whose work explores themes of belonging in community and culture.

The UVU Museum of Art was formerly called the Woodbury Art Museum and was located at the University Place prior to 2023. It is now located at Lakemount Manor, which was donated to the university by the family of the late philanthropist and community activist Melanie Bastian.

"We're excited to launch the museum on an innovative new platform based on community-based partnerships and designed to celebrate the contributions of our culturally diverse communities," museum director Lisa Anderson said in a statement. "We're proud to showcase these important artists' work and to engage our audiences in exploring themes of belonging in art and culture."

The Art of Belonging initiative will feature a handful of exhibits are the museum:

  • The Art of Belonging: Statewide Juried Exhibition. This collection features over 50 pieces created by 40 Utah artists of color. The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, photography, video and mixed-media.
  • "Beliefs of Our Forebears" by Maruch Santíz Gómez: Santiz was born in Chiapas, Mexico, and identifies as part of the Indigenous ethnic group Tzotzil Maya. She uses photography to preserve and share asepects of Tzotzil culture.
  • "Material Meditations" by Jorge Rojas: Rojas is a Mexican artist and educator. This exhibit includes recent abstract works that combine the artist's experimentation with materials and minimalism with influences from his Mexican roots.
  • "Corn Mandala: Belonging" by Jorge Rojas: This is the seventh in an ongoing series where the artist uses colorful natural corn kernels to produce patterns and symbols deeply rooted in Mesoamerican, Native American, and in this case, Polynesian tradition. Much of Rojas's sculptural and performance work has celebrated the spiritual significance of maize for Indigenous cultures in the Americas.

UVU is holding a grand opening of the museum and community celebration on Saturday, May 13, from noon to 7 p.m. It will feature a dance party and a multicultural showcase by "Remembering Our Culture" representing dances rom Native American, African, Polynesian, Latino and Asian cultures.

The museum is located at 240 W. 1800 S. Street in Orem. The Art of Belonging initiative will include a number of public programs ranging rom artists lectures, performance art pieces and film discussions through Sept. 16. More information is available on the initiative's website.

The exhibitions and other programs are free; however, tickets are required and can be reserved on UVU's website.

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Sydnee Chapman Gonzalez is a reporter and recent Utah transplant. She works at the Utah Investigative Journalism Project and was previously at KSL.com and the Wenatchee World in Washington. Her reporting has focused on marginalized communities, homelessness and local government. She grew up in Arizona and has lived in various parts of Mexico. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, rock climbing and embroidery.


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