Art and community has been the catalyst for the recently established relationship between The Monarch, Ogden’s new epicenter for arts and events, and the long-standing Weber State University’s Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities. Bound by a shared commitment to public art and to Ogden's growing artistic identity, the two entities joined forces, along with the Ogden Nature Center, to bring the artist Jane Kim to town for three major art installations associated with her internationally renowned Monarch Migrating Mural project. The partnership continues as WSU expands its Department of Visual Art and Design (DOVAD) into The Monarch’s studio spaces this August, giving the university's art and design program more visibility in central Ogden while contributing to The Monarch’s creative atmosphere.
“It was a fruitful partnership to bring thoughtful and impactful pieces of public art to Ogden with the Migrating Mural project,” says Matthew Choberka, WSU professor and chair of the Depart of Visual Art and Design. “We see the Monarch studios as a continuation of that partnership and a chance to pool resources and to develop the arts and culture in our town in a very meaningful way.” A pilot group of ten to twelve students whose disciplines could range from painting and sculpture to photography, design and even art education, will occupy a shared space in The Monarch’s west studios at the start of the fall semester. The motivation is to provide BFA students with the proper space they need to prepare a body of work for their thesis exhibition at the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery, the culmination of their undergraduate art studies.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to allow these BFA thesis candidates the space and time to develop their work, while understanding the level of independence they’re going to need as professional artists once they graduate,” says Choberka, who feels the students will benefit from the collaborative energy at The Monarch studios while contributing value with high-level work. “We want to bring more awareness to the caliber of what our Weber undergrads are doing in the Visual Art & Design program,” he says. “We hope they’ll be influenced by the hive of activity at The Monarch – but they’ll also be influencers.”
With dedicated faculty members actively contributing to their fields, the largest contemporary student gallery in the state, and the Lindquist College's renewed emphasis on connecting the arts and humanities to 21st-century careers, WSU’s Visual Art & Design program is growing rapidly and with commendable strength. The program is committed to equipping students with the creative skills they need in today’s job market – whether in the arts or other creative careers - while exposing them to contemporary art practices through international artist lectures and exhibitions, and visits to art destinations such as the Venice Biennale. As the Dean of the Lindquist College of the Arts & Humanities, Scott Sprenger, noted, "Establishing professional experiences in off-campus studios at The Monarch is just another step in fulfilling our commitment to aligning student learning to career opportunity and to our mission to support the local community."
More information on The Monarch and its upcoming selection of local artists, makers and businesses can be found on the venue’s official website.