This curriculum was created to be a tool for both art/art history and social science/general education classes. We have included some learning tools at the bottom of the page as well as questions and prompts with each artwork.
The Our Valley Speaks exhibition consists of site specific videos that can be experienced throughout the Sanpete Valley, using the Popwalk app. To see the works in the exhibition, download the app and follow the map on Popwalk to the locations of the artworks. When you arrive at the location of the work, it unlocks to be viewed. All of the artworks in this exhibition are site specific, they are intended to be seen in their respective locations.
For this in class curriculum, we have included an interactive map (below) of the artworks in the exhibit. you can zoom the map to see where the artworks are located, down to the street level. You can also click on the individual map icon, which will bring up a screen to show the first minute of the video, like the trailer for a movie.
Below the map is a list of some of the artworks in the exhibit. We provide a still image from the video, a picture of the location, and an indication of where the work is found on our interactive map. There is also a description of the artwork and a short biography of the artist.
As you go through these works of art, ask yourself, why is the artwork placed in that location? Every location may be seen as holding layer upon layer of history. How might the you personal experience and knowledge of that place be changed by seeing the artwork there? What is the history and heritage of that place that affects the way you understand the video?
Jorge Rojas, Dance for our Departed
On May 1, 2020 Native American, Polynesian, African, Asian, and Aztec dancers from the U.S. and Mexico came together to mourn the losses suffered by communities of color due to America’s racist legacies and to highlight racial disparities, now exacerbated by the Covid Pandemic, while also offering healing and hope. As dance can be medicine for healing, so it can also be a tool for change. This work is located in Indianola, at the north end of the Sanpete valley. It was here that the Sanpete Utes were pushed to farm a small portion of the valley, before finally being moved to a larger Ute reservation outside of Sanpete, making this location the departure point for the Native Americans.
Jorge Rojas is a multidisciplinary artist, independent curator and educator. Rojas makes performance that examines cultural, social, and mediated forms of communication. He uses performance to bring people together, as well as provoke public participation, action, and collaboration. Rojas’s interests include spiritual histories, interpretations of ancient rites and customs, institutional critique, and responding to abuses of power.
Ben Kinsley, Dirt Worshiper II
For his work in Sanpete, Ben focuses on the soil. The term “dirt worshiper” has been used disparagingly to describe environmentalists, however, it has become increasingly clear that soil health plays a vital role in the health of our planet. As an avid mushroom hunter, Ben spends a lot of time moving slowly while staring at the ground. His work for this exhibition takes the form of a series of audio/visual meditations on the flora and fauna beneath our feet at various points of interest within the Sanpete Valley.
Ben Kinsley’s projects have ranged from choreographing a neighborhood intervention into Google Street View, directing surprise theatrical performances inside the homes of strangers, organizing a paranormal concert series, staging a royal protest, investigating feline utopia, collecting put-down jokes from around the world, and planting a buried treasure in the streets of Mexico City (yet to be found).
David Lindsay, Kristina’s Journey
This work describes the 120 mile journey made by a 56 year old Swedish immigrant in the 1870. After the death of her husband in Moroni, Kristina sets off for Grantsville. She leaves alone, on foot, without a water, a horse, or any supplies. This is an event in the life of an ancestor of the artist’s wife. This video questions how we judge the events of the past. Are we are able to contextualize past events through our limited lens of understanding?
David Chapman Lindsay is an artist working in print, video, and animation. His work has been exhibited all over the United States and Europe. Much of his art is presented as site-specific work through the Popwalk app. In these works, he attempts to unravel history and culture within a location, addressing both common and disquieting assumptions that we make about place.
Paul Gardner, Sanpete Birding from the Valley Floor
Biologist Paul Gardner gives an overview of the birds found on the Sanpete Valley floor, particularly those ground nesting and waterfowl, who thrive in the flooded fields and creeks in the Sanpete Valley floor.
Paul Gardner earned a BS in Biology from Pennsylvania State University and an MS in Zoology from Brigham Young University and a PhD from Northern Arizona University. Gardner is a professor of biology at Snow College.
Ashley Hanson and Brian Laidlaw, Bird’s Eye Chisel
During their time in Sanpete, Ashley and Brian met with local community members, scholars, musicians, parents, students, and artists to amass a shared library of images and insights about the area’s beautiful, complex history. In story circles, interviews and songwriting workshops, Ashley and Brian listened to the joys and anxieties of modern-day life in the area, heard celebrations and interrogations of Sanpete’s past, and documented all manner of hopes, dreams and fears for the future of the valley.
From this patchwork of quotations and observations, patterns started to emerge, touchstones would echo and rhyme and reverberate, through-lines would thread their way from one conversation to the next. The sheep, the rabbit-brush, the old houses, the new houses, the oldtimers, the newcomers, the soil, the chisel and the stone. Those recurring images, which arise in fine variation across many voices, and which accrete new meanings through many generations, are the very substance of folk music itself: the collective vocabulary through which people – folk – articulate their sense of place.
The Family Trade is a folk/Americana act fronted by poet-songwriter Brian Laidlaw and vocalist-instrumentalist Ashley Hanson. Originally based in Minneapolis, the Family Trade has built a devoted following on the strength of their live shows, bolstered by radio airplay on stations around the Midwest. The band has recently uprooted from Minneapolis and now calls Boulder, CO home. Their sound is a word-rich, harmony heavy revival of sixties and seventies Americana; their performances make even the biggest of stages feel as intimate as a bonfire circle.
Nikki Pike, Tracings
TRACINGS is an inquiry-based project inviting locals to think forwards and backwards through time. One thousand years ago, the Fremont people in the Sanpete Valley created rock drawings that have sparked curiosity about their civilization. These petroglyphs have given some insight about the Fremont people, but also leave many questions about humans and life over centuries of time. Participants are encouraged to think beyond written language to send a message or encapsulate our current civilization. What would you share or leave behind for humanity one thousand years in the future? This work is located near the Wales canyon, inviting viewers to see their own drawing on the rocks near the mouth of the canyon.
Nikki Pike grew up in Black Forest Colorado where she learned to ride bikes and climb trees in between flashlight tag, midnight soccer, and competitive sledding. The adopted daughter of a nurse and an engineer, and one of six siblings, Nikki learned to work in groups and negotiate early on. Fighting over the measuring cups in the bathtub and wooden spoons in the garden, the Pike family children grew wild imaginations.
Reza Safavi, Thomas Grocery and Pump
While Reza was driving through the Sanpete Valley, in March 2021 he passed an abandoned building in Sterling, Thomas Grocery, a white frame building with a single gas pump out front, on the west side of U.S. 89 about a half-mile into town. The store seemed to be frozen in time with items still stocked in the dusty windows. Reza became intrigued by this building, which had a hint of melancholy, and he returned to experience the building further. He subsequently spoke to local residents about the building and found that a woman named Lillie Thomas worked there continuously for 74 years, with the exception of 3 years during World War II, living in a white cottage next door. The store was open six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, and Thomas covered most of those hours. To imprint the experiential magic of this building and create this work, Reza used 3D scanning technologies and 360 video, digitally preserving this building in its current state in 2021. Reza aims to create an experience of Thomas Grocery that serves as a virtual monument to the hard work and dedication of this unique woman and her contribution to the community.
Reza Safavi’s research examines how the presence of technology in daily life shapes experience. He uses video, code, sound, drawing, performance, sculpture, analog and digital devices as well as living elements to create interactive experiences that highlight the interfaces, both macro and micro, among communities, technology, consciousness and the environment.
Rachel Farmer, Feathers
For the work Feathers, the artist interviews her mother, who was raised on a small farm/ranch in Southern Idaho, about the division of labor surrounding the killing and dressing of chickens –bookended by short tales of her grandfather and her great-great-grandmother (who lived in Sanpete Valley from 1856-1865).
From the curator’s point of view, this exhibition has been astounding to watch come together. The artists have created a wonderful variety of works about the Sanpete valley. We hope that you have a chance to come see the works yourself. The exhibit will open on May 29th, 2021. You can experience the works, on site, through the Popwalk app.
Rachel Farmer is a Brooklyn based artist and educator, originally from Provo, UT.She received a BFA in ceramics from Brigham Young University and an MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her solo exhibition at Granary Arts in Ephraim, UT (2018) led to a community-based project –a quilted map of the Ephraim area –that is on view in the exhibition Material Issues at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art thru June 2021.
David Rosier, The Sanpetch River
The poem “The Sanpitch River” is simple verses that evolved during the writing, just something that worked with the subject. The poem is a memory poem that includes a reference to wild blue plums growing alongside the banks of the Sanpitch river, particularly in a meadow south of the farm where I grew up between Moroni and Mount Pleasant.
David Rosier was born in Salt Lake City, and grew up in Sanpete County. He attended schools in Moroni and graduated from North Sanpete High School in Mount Pleasant, Snow College and later from USU with a specialty in poetry and Shakespeare. Returning to Sanpete County, he worked at Snow College, as an adjunct and then as a professor. He served as English Department Chair and was also faculty advisor to Snow’s literary magazine, Weeds. Rosier continues with both professional interests, organ and poetry. His works have recently been published in The Lyric, Utah Life, and New Verse News. He lives in Spring City in a small rock house that is a national historic site.
Thomas Holmes, Invisible Army
This is a passion project that highlights climbing route development in the state of Utah. This particular episode follows a father (Jason) and son (Noah) into Maple Canyon Utah, where years ago Jason placed the first bolts with the idea of developing the canyon for sport climbing. What was originally a necessity “if i wanted to go climbing, I had to make my own route”, has now grown into a world renown sport climbing destination. The videos main concept is to share the impressive amount of work that goes into route development. Now days, modern climbers can walk into any canyon and have hundreds of routes to choose from giving little thought as to how and why the routes are there in the first place…
Thomas Holmes is a Photographer, Cinematographer, Musician and Sound Engineer living in Provo, Utah. He currently works as a Media Director for Redcliff Ascent, a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teens. Thomas has created videos about the history of rock climbing in Utah and music videos for his personal music project: Boulevard Sky
The works in this exhibition are meant to be seen on site, within the context of the surrounding buildings, mountains, etc. It this way, the artworks may be seen as similar to public works of art.
A thoughtful way to address the meaning and interpretation of the artworks in this exhibition may be through the lens of heritage studies. Heritage is a product of our history and part of our community. It is a tool used as a cultural, political, and economic resource for communities and nations. Under the pressure of all of these influences, heritage often becomes a tool to tell stories that construct and support political and social identities that ignore or even attack those outside of that narrative.
Heritage is an active process of power negotiation and mediation of cultural, social and political change in which individuals and groups take positions in relation to the past. They do so by performing “a range of activities such as remembering, communicating, commemorating, passing on knowledge and memories, (re)constructing, asserting and expressing identity, social and cultural values and meanings” as well as by forgetting, destroying, disinheriting, marginalizing, ignoring.
Even though celebrated as a unifying force and source of rootedness, shared identity and belonging, heritage simultaneously always works to disinherit, divide and articulate differences with ‘other’ groups. The process of giving meaning to the past through heritage so as to (re)construct who we are, how others see us and how we understand others is never performed for its own sake.
You might discuss with your students those sources of heritage in their own lives. What are the stories, locations, and people that make up their own sense of identity? Where are locations that the students identify as important to their identity? What stories might they tell at those places?
Because Heritage is always an attempt to create community, there are almost always stories and people that are left out of the cultural make up of the community. What are some places, people, or stories that are left out of their community? Why are those left out? How would it change the community’s identity to include those?