Woman knows all of the stories but tells no story of her own. A fascinating concept
to Erica Church, who has trouble recognizing herself
in the mirror.
Church is the University of Utah’s only sculpture
graduate student. She is an intellectual with a high
sense of craftsmanship but has never done a piece about
The Gittins Gallery, located in the Art Building
on the U campus, plays host to many MFA shows.
This week it is dedicated to the Church’s work. Her well-named
thesis, “Dissimilar Likeness and Myths of Self,” is
really two galleries in one.
“The pieces are about things I felt restricted
by,” said Church, noting her personal challenge.
She has been making things for almost all of her life
and throughout demanded of herself that none of the
pieces be autobiographical.
The show is about identity and it is more precisely
about self-exploration in a cultural context, cultural
concessions of image, emotion and personas as intrinsic
methods of characters inherent in the self.
Church prefers a story which has no heroes—or
at the very least the heroes are drug-addicted whores.
The first part of the gallery is filled with appropriated
aboriginal mythical characters. She turns the parts
of herself into artifact form to see what they had
Unfortunately, the pieces don’t carry themselves
on their own, but the spatial relations and forms make
perfect sense after you’re told the myths. The “Rising
Stone” is the foolish sun that goes from one
place to another and never sees itself. The “Sinking
Feather” is the moon constantly faced with its
The “Crow Woman” wears tormented rags.
Unfinished fabric lets its stitches fall to the floor.
The Crow Woman, like Church, knows a lot, but what
would she say if pressed about herself?
Church intermingles herself with her intrinsic but
exaggerated characters. Some of her personas plague
the Internet and have full histories and emotions.
For the second part of the gallery, her characters
are rear-projected video of persona through a brief
sitting. It shows the angst-ridden teenage girl painting
her fingernails black, the aloof man sulking and
four others. All of the characters are played by
Church and are all parts of her.
The characters are in gaudy museum-like frames. The
ubiquitous bench is a nice seat for an uninhibited
“My high-falutin’ art dream is that artists
will gather and support each other,” said Church
in precious ballerina pose. “If we just got together
we could pull ourselves out of this hole.”
Church is a fun, witty, pensive, intelligent person.
You have an opportunity to meet her and her work
in person at a reception on Thursday, Jan. 22,
5:30 through 7:30 p.m. in the Gittins Gallery.