A photography major at Southern Utah University is gaining some statewide recognition. Evelyn Roundy, a junior Photography major from Nephi, Utah, was accepted into the 2023 Statewide Annual Exhibition (SWA) for her piece “Light in Her Countenance.” Evelyn’s work, alongside those of 23 other artists, will be on display at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) in Salt Lake City until September 16, 2023.

The SWA is an annual juried exhibition that presents a survey of current, outstanding visual art by Utah-based artists. The theme for 2023 is Mixed Media & Works on Paper, meaning entries consisted of books, drawings, screenprints, collages, combinations of materials, found objects, embroidery, audio, lights, and other media. The SWA has been an ongoing project of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums since 2009 with the aim of illuminating the broad spectrum of personal expression, ideas, stories, and passions of Utah’s artists.

Evelyn Roundy’s piece, “Light in Her Countenance,” represents her metaphorical perspective of light as knowledge. In a press release, Roundy explained, “Just as astronomers gain knowledge by observing the light that radiates, reflects, or affects other space objects, or as photographers capture light with a camera in order to preserve the present into the future, I’ve decided to apply this concept to the light in a person’s countenance and the knowledge I have gained by observing their unique light.”

The subject of “Light in Her Countenance” is Roundy’s friend, Destiny Watt. The piece incorporates photos, fabric, and other materials and techniques in order to convey Evelyn’s impressions of her friend when they first met, Destiny’s feeling of being “broken” from past lived experiences, and her personality and intentions.

Evelyn submitted two pieces to be considered for the exhibition, but she worried that because “Light in Her Countenance” turned out to be very different from what she had initially imagined, it wasn’t good enough. When she was notified that this piece was chosen by one of the art directors from the UMOCA, she was shocked but grateful for her decision to be creative with what she had and press forward.

Evelyn credits Professor Rheana Gardner-Reeves for motivating her to enter the competition and for helping her to develop the skills that led to her success. She also believes that SUU’s small class sizes helped her to develop the confidence to learn from critiques and improve her craft.

Expressing what she hopes observers will see from her exhibit, Roundy said, “Sometimes light can be bent or refracted in a way that abstracts our perspective, just as our perspective of a person may not be what it seems at first.”

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