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Nancy E. Rivera named Kimball Art Center’s 2022 artist-in-residence

PARK CITY, Utah – The Kimball Art Center (KAC) named Nancy E. Rivera as its 2022 artist-in-residence. The artist-in-residence program supports artists of diverse ages, backgrounds, and disciplines in the exploration and expansion of their creative practices and the production of new bodies of work. Rivera follows inaugural artist-in-residence, Jorge Rojas, as KAC’s second resident artist.

Nancy E. Rivera is a visual artist, curator, and arts administrator based in Salt Lake City. As an artist, she works primarily in the fields of photography, video, sculpture, and installation. Her practice is influenced by her dual cultural identity and its effects, such as code-switching, cultural assimilation, and displacement. Her most recent work reflects on her experience as a first-generation Mexican American through her own history of migration.

“I think mainly what the residency will offer is time for me to focus on developing a current body of work that’s been in progress for a couple of years,” said Rivera. “It’ll be really nice to have a facility not only is it providing a platform to show some work that’s being completed but talk about the process of continuing to work on a large body of work and bring in the public to see that process and understand how contemporary art is created. I’ll also use the time to invite other people in the art community to come and have studio visits with me, and in that way, create more of a community element where it’s serving me as an artist to gain other perspectives, or to gain more information about how others perceive the work.”

During her residency, Rivera will work on her cross-stitch portrait series and the research behind it. The continuation of that work is a total of 15 self-portraits that trace Rivera’s path through the US immigration process.

The source material for this work draws from her family’s archive, which includes government-issued immigration documents from 22 years living as immigrants in the U.S. In this ongoing series of work, Rivera employs passport, green card, and other ID photos to trace the different chapters of her experience through the US immigration process. She reproduces these photos as detailed and delicate cross-stitched portraits.

“Taking these photos out of the context of their use as government identification transforms and subverts the traditional readings of these images,” Rivera said. “They are a reference to the bureaucratic process of immigration but in each portrait, as we stare straight ahead, emotionless, devoid of the context of our location, nationality, or legal status I ask the source material to code-switch from its original context to works of art that explore a diasporic identity.”

Mexican 1999 cross stitch by Nancy E. Rivera.

Kimball Art Center resident artists receive a stipend, production budget, and support from staff. Additional resources include access to shared facilities including a ceramics studio with kilns, welding equipment, and resources made possible through Kimball’s extensive community partnerships.

The program fosters the development of each resident’s voice by providing an environment that actively supports experimentation, taking risks, and pursuing new projects and ideas. Providing the critical components of time, space, and community, the program encourages significant creative, intellectual, and professional growth for an artist.

“At the core of the Kimball is a desire to support the creative process,” said KAC Curator Nancy Stoaks. “We do that every day for the larger community through our classes. But the artist-in-residence program has been a really important extension of that to our community of professional artists that we have in the area. Just like Nancy was saying, it provides an opportunity for time and community to support the growth of a current or new body of work. Nancy is going to be here at the Kimball most Saturdays between now and August 14. There’s that opportunity for people to come in and engage with the work and speak with Nancy about the ideas. These are opportunities for the larger community to get a little window into Nancy’s creative process, but also something that can benefit Nancy as well.”

Rivera’s work will be on display at Kimball Art Center from July 2 – August 14. A kick-off party is scheduled for July 8 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Members of the public are invited to meet the artist and hear more about the work of her residency. Light refreshments, entertainment, and a cash bar will be available. Rivera will hold studio hours weekly throughout the residency.

Kimball Art Center exhibition programming is designed to further understand the artist and the work. Together with Nancy Rivera, Kimball Art Center will host the following exhibition programs during the residency.

Open Studio Hours: Ongoing, Saturdays except for July 23

Visitors can meet with Nancy, ask questions about her work, art career, and process.

Recommended Reading: The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. This book is written by one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard. In it, she reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation. Two book discussions will take place.

Morning at the Museum: Saturday, July 16, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Kimball Art Center’s Morning at the Museum offers family-friendly tours to explore current exhibitions. Educators foster youth-friendly discussions focused on noticing elements in the art, learning vocabulary, and supporting creative ideas. Tours are followed by an art-making experience that links to the themes and materials in the exhibition.

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