Monthly Archives: June 2015

Alan Torres: Mechatronics Engineer / Photographer


Alan Torres is a computer scientist and mechatronics engineer working on what he says is “an exciting new research topic related to extracting 3D information from transparent objects (stuff made of glass, cups, etc., which are very challenging by the way) using only still images (no fancy sensors required), focusing on augmented reality applications.” Torres is from central Mexico, studied in Bristol, England, and lives in San Francisco.

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Tell us how you joined the church. Joined as a teenager. One day I popped into my house and found the missionaries teaching my family at home. At first it was a very weird experience to have the missionaries at home and didn’t love the idea of being taught by them, but just out of curiosity started to listen, only motivated by the cultural learning I could get. Everything went too fast from there; my family decided to join the church before I was ready, and I joined with them just because I didn’t want to be left out. It wasn’t until six months later when I found my own testimony, drop by drop during institute classes and reading the Book of Mormon. I’m extremely happy that I did, what I’ve learned has shaped my life and pushed me to try my best. I’ve also found all of my best friends in there.

You take your camera with you when you travel. I try to keep my camera close to me most of the times. I always read the signs on the streets, graffiti, things laying around in the street. I like the urban anomalies but every once in a while I find a nice landscape I want to keep for me.

Visit Alan Torre’s Flickr.

Follow Alan Torres on Instagram.

Alan Torres

Amanda Valentine: Fashion Designer


Amanda Valentine is an accomplished fashion designer proudly based in Nashville, Tennessee where she runs her firm Valentine Valentine. The only reality show I will watch with my wife is Project Runway. I’m willing to bet I’m not the target demographic for the show: white straight male sports fan. However, I find the contestants incredibly talented and the art sublime. One of our favorite contestants over the years has been two-time contestant Amanda Valentine. She comes from a talented family that includes a medical doctor and the guitarist from Maroon 5.

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Describe your creative process. I’m consistently influenced by music. I often get obsessed with a new music movement or a new tiny indie band or a scene… and I essentially want people to feel something they feel when they listen to a certain song. Music is amazing at smacking you on the forehead with nostalgia and hope for the future all at the same time. If I wasn’t a designer, I would be playing bass in a metal band. No question. And at this point I have a bit of a formula- combining something pop culture/graphic with something rich/antique. I love opposites, dissonance. One of my favorite collections was called “French Medieval Fly Girl.”

You come from the Royal Tenenbaums of Mormon families. Do you think all of the high-achievers in your family helped you or hurt you? Both? For years I felt like the black sheep or the underachiever. I rebelled young and loudly. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but well into my 20’s I resented the success of others. I thought if there were already doctors or rock stars or successful parents, what was left for me? Now in my mid-30’s I realize I was dramatically emo about it all and I’m fiercely proud of and protective of my family. No one understands us like each other. We are a unique club of workaholics.

You run your own business now. Ever imagine that one day you would be worrying about payroll? Oh it was the LAST thing on my mind when I was shredding fabric and painting hieroglyphics on maxi dresses! I still want to run and hide from it all, but it is a necessary evil. I want to be punk rock about it and not worry about money or organization but I also want to keep working for myself and employing amazing people. It is a constant, constant struggle. I’ve learned from mentors and continue to just find smarter people to give me advice. I’m now working on the balance of taking advice and trusting my gut–crucial in art AND business.

What sparks your creativity? Every city I visit, I first visit the museum. I love music, I love film, I love it all. I think it’s our job as artists to keep our eyes and ears open to everything so that we can have a catalogue of sorts to draw from when we go to work. I’m especially influenced by the “craft” arts of societies. West African beading, Guatemalan weaving, Turkish jewelry, and American quilting. Those “practical crafts” are the documentations of entire civilizations.

Visit Amanda Valentine’s website.

Follow Amanda Valentine on Instagram.

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Ben Howell: Book of Mormon, Transcription #1

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Ben Howell‘s Transcription #1 is a hanging scroll with Howell’s handwritten transcription of the Book of Mormon. It was also a performance piece at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibit Church vs State: Contemporary Collecting PraxisTranscription #1 covers the first half of the Book of Mormon. Howell is working on Transcription #2.

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Howell is a graduate of the Pratt Institute’s MFA and MLIS programs. His eclectic background includes work as an interactive fine artist, church organ fabricator, and library scientist. Howell wrote a ‘bit about my background’ for The Krakens:

“Born out of season, premature, during an April snowstorm at the tail end of the 70’s. My praxis longs for intensive focus, interactivity and endurance through the rediscovery, use and redirection of discarded practices. I seek the experience of the contemporary via the context and renewal of the derelict. My goal is to continue to explore the experience and relationship between artistic production in the home and the wild.

“I loved but neglected visual art until my first year in high school. I had an amazing teacher, Bill Larsen, who animated and elevated my appreciation of art history and creative production. I was hooked. From unnamed neolithic stone artist to de Kooning I felt among kin. I continued to take art history courses in conjunction with studio courses at the University of Utah. I began working at the Fine Arts Library in the J. Willard Marriott Library where I had the opportunity to interview many older artists about their work and their amazing collections. Through these relationships, I felt one step away from early twentieth century art/design luminaries such as Joseph Albers and Buckminster Fuller. I also began rethinking the incredible diversity of land art and other contemporary/commercial, governmental and artistic practices that I had always taken for granted, ‘just a part of Utah’. I made my first trip to Spiral Jetty and where I had never felt farther from home. It felt like I was in a chapter of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Martian Chronicles’.

“I had a huge array of studio courses in my Sculpture Degree at the U. I loved all of them, but especially woodworking and anything electronic and interactive. I was more interested in human scale and interactive pieces than anything static. I worked in fabric, knit, wood, and other natural materials. I loved the library, loved the form and history of all written technology, scroll, codex, etc. I took bookbinding courses, tried unsuccessfully to enter the world of conservation. I’d try again. I worked at a pipe organ building company in American Fork. I loved woodworking and building.

“During my graduate degree in sculpture I focused on art and spirituality, performance and interaction. For my thesis I created an open and looped system where I built an expanding set of costume elements, travelled to site oriented locations via bicycle and performed/documented ritual and return. I want to take artistic practice where it doesn’t belong. I did performance work at small family owned farms in rural Italy where my only audience was farmers who told me my practice was impractical. I worked for them 6 days a week in exchange for room and board and once carved an egg out of a fallen tree to help their chicken begin laying eggs.

“Currently I am applying for Reference and Instruction positions at universities around the country. I write for an hour to two hours per day, transcribing the Book of Mormon and I am working on an embroidery project to visualize the interaction between dead cattle, pioneer settlers and Ute peoples in San Pitch (Sanpete), Utah – Winter 1849.”

Ben Howell

Nick Stephens: The Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever


Nick Stephens‘ project, The Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever, is a symbolical representation of temples and afterlife in Mormon theology. This mixed media on board was included in the Church’s 9th International Art Competition and Stephens explains some of symbolism in the video below–much of it went over my head when I saw the painting in person.

You do a lot of religious art, how do you pick the subjects for those pieces? Some are out of necessity, like a religious show that has a specific theme like the Church’s International Art Competition. Mostly, I work on subjects that I am interested in and that can fit my style. Especially if it is something that can be portrayed in a symbolic manner, then I am very interested in finding clever and inspired ways of interpreting that subject. I may do more illustrative work in the future, since there is only so much that can be done with symbols.

Visit Nick Stephens website.

Purchase the print for The Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever.



Paige Crosland Anderson: A Bright Recollection

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Paige Crosland Anderson grew up in Provo, Utah in a tight-knit family. After traveling for grad school and internships she and her husband settled in Salt Lake City with their two daughters. Her family has creative strains on both sides and she says, “My desire to speak to the importance of the connection we have to our families is central to my work.”

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Your paintings have a definite style–I would call it geometric. With regards to how I developed my current “style” I’d say it grew out of the concept I was trying hard as a student at BYU to convey. I wanted to talk about ancestry; what we inherit, what we pass on; this idea that we are inextricably linked in both directions and that we are trying to simultaneously claim that inheritance and leave one to our posterity. This idea coupled with how much I was looking at pedigree charts, naturally led me to patterns. Compounding this was my grandmother’s influence who is an award-winning quilter. As a student I used patterns from William Morris to common quilt patterns to designs I would make up. Now I stick to a few patterns that are primarily drawn from traditional pioneer quilts. I think quilts give a good nod to women and women’s work. They seem like something many people physically inherit. I’m also very interested in the meditative processes involved in many domestic crafts like quilting and like to incorporate that methodical feel to my work.

Describe your process. I begin by getting out my rulers and drawing out the pattern. Then I’ll paint the pattern in full, let that dry, and paint it again in different colors. I generally do this until it is about 3-4 layers deep in most places–depends on the painting–and use a power sander to break down through the layers and expose the various marks and colors beneath. After I’ll go back to the easel and paint in shapes that don’t aid in the composition or don’t have particularly interesting colors or textures. I alternate between painting and sanding until I’m happy with the composition and colors. I loved printmaking as a student because of the thrill of not knowing exactly what was going to come out the other side of the press (maybe this is just because I was an unpracticed printmaker), but I like to think that sanding gives me that same sense of anticipation as I wait to see what I uncover.

The whole process start to finish is very meditative. It’s rhythmic and methodical. I enjoy this part of the process and also think it lends to the meaning behind my work—that we are building on what was given to us, that the mistakes can turn out to be beautiful, that by doing the same small acts day in and day out we create meaning and vibrancy, even though while we’re in the middle of the dredges it might not seem that way. We often assume that something with routine and method is also predictable. Life experience, however, shows us otherwise. We soon discover that we’ve grossly underestimated the sum or our ceremonies.

After graduating from BYU, tell us about your progress on the commercial side. I had my first daughter a few months before receiving my BFA at BYU. Also at the time, I knew my husband’s schooling would soon take us to Italy and Washington, D.C. Needless to say, I really thought that my artistic season would be on hiatus for a while, at least in a serious way. My husband urged me to get supplies out and get working again. While in Washington, D.C. the next year, I started painting patterns again. I began with some landscapes and other things but found that I missed that contemplative repetitiveness that painting patterns gave me. I sold a few paintings to friends that year and left a painting with our landlord as a thank you before moving to Utah.

A few months later (after the birth of my second daughter) a friend of my previous landlord called up, told me she had seen my work and loved it, that she was in Salt Lake and would be at my house in an hour to see some paintings. I was panicked. All I had was a few watercolors and had a few unfinished studies. She came, stayed for hours and we talked art and she really lit a fire in me. She put together an art show that hung at Communal Restaurant in Provo for a few months. Coincidentally, Susan Meyer (a gallery owner in Park City) spoke in Provo during that same time. I reached out and asked if she’d like to grab a bite at Communal after her talk. She agreed, but said she didn’t think the timing was right for her to talk representation at that point. I didn’t mind, I was just excited to meet. She was enthusiastic about my work as soon as she saw it hung and by the end of the night we had an agreement to show at her gallery.

That was a little over a year ago. Since then things have picked up for me in a lot of ways. I used to think as a student that going the commercial route seemed to be “selling out” in some way, that I’d lose my artistic identity or creative force. I’ve found just the opposite to be true. I’ve never been more productive, had reason to work so hard and meet so many great people through art.

Visit Paige Crosland Anderson’s website.

Follow Paige Crosland Anderson on Instagram.


Paige Anderson