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New at UMFA: Art and the missing

The exhibition is on view from Saturday, March 19 through Sunday, Dec. 4.

Courtesy of the artist.

How can art reconnect you with those you miss? A new exhibition by David Rios Ferreia at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) looks at community art-making, imagined time travel and spirituality as a vehicle for thinking about love, loss and memory.

David Rios Ferreira: “Transcending Time and Space,” featuring work and writing by artist Denae Shanidiin is the newest project in the UMFA’s award-winning, exploratory ACME Lab space. The exhibition is on view from Saturday, March 19 through Sunday, Dec. 4. On Friday, March 18, a free exhibition preview (5 p.m.) and artist talk (6 p.m.) will be held at the UMFA, with the talk also offered via livestream.

Merging science fiction with cultural and spiritual traditions, “Transcending Time and Space” asks visitors to contemplate those they might’ve lost, those they miss across distances and those they have yet to meet. The exhibition presents a collection of Ferreira’s abstracted drawings, collages and photographs that function as imagined gateways and portals through which we may connect with those we cannot reach on this plane. These gateways use imagery from history, pop culture, photographs and text to tell stories about the people we miss.

Ferreira was moved to create the work in this exhibition around the ever-growing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous people—something he explores in collaboration with Utah-based artist Denae Shanidiin and Restoring Ancestral Winds, a Tribal coalition responding to the violence perpetrated on Indigenous communities within the Great Basin and strengthening the traditional values of Indigenous relations.

“Exploring colonial history’s impact on our daily lives through a personal and emotional lens was central in making this body of work,” says Ferreira. “I hope visitors will find their own entry into the artworks and in so doing discover different ways to think about love, loss and memory.“

David Rios Ferreira is a visual artist, independent curator and museum professional. Ferreira is interested in how the past informs the present and their existence on the same plane. Issues around power, colonial history, deculturalization practices and missing or murdered Indigenous and LGBTQ people are at the root of his work. Borrowing images from historical etchings, old political cartoons, coloring books and films, Ferreira reprocesses this imagery through layering, tracing and collage, to create new forms, new bodies and new futures. In this unique moment in time, with old sociopolitical wounds resurfacing, and new ones opening, Ferreira asks us to question ourselves and the systems of power that we inhabit.

Denae Shanidiin, Diné and Korean artist, is born to the Diné (Navajo) Nation. She is Honágháahnii, One-Walks-Around Clan, born to the Korean race on her Father’s side. Kinłichíi’nii, the Red House People, is her Maternal Grandfather’s Clan, and the Bilagáana, White People, is her Paternal Grandfather’s Clan. Shanidiin’s projects reveal the importance of Indigenous spirituality and sovereignty. Her work brings awareness to many contemporary First Nation’s issues including Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.