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What is a Solo Exhibit?

The short answer is that a solo exhibit is a show dedicated to only one artist’s work.

Different Types of Art Exhibits

You see, there are a few different kinds of exhibitions in the art world: Online, Retrospective, Juried, Group and Solo to name a few. One of the most common is a group show. I have been in several group shows both in the U.S. and overseas. A group show is where multiple artists submit work which is curated into a single show. An artist can submit anywhere from one to five works of art depending on the rules of the exhibit. Most of the group shows I have participated in are ones where a theme was chosen by the art center. The artists submitted works separate from one another and then the show was juried and curated through the art center. Of course, artists can also come together to create a group show themselves. Then, they apply to exhibition spaces to have it displayed.

Solo Exhibit

Solo exhibits are a chance for the artist to show a full body of work all together and to curate the display themselves. Most artists are not creating single one-off works of art that are significantly different from one to the next. We usually have a theme or idea and make multiple pieces of art around that concept or imagery. Doing that gives you a chance to try different techniques around one idea, to push one technique really far, to capture an image or thought from multiple angles, to say something louder and stronger, or to go deeper with a concept. Sometimes it takes multiple pieces to tell a full story.

I’m excited to share that my first solo exhibit is on display now at the Bountiful Davis Art Center in Bountiful, Utah!

Abstract Landscapes: Deserts of the American West Exhibit

My solo exhibit Abstract Landscapes: Deserts of the American West is a collection of 34 works of art all created by me. Some of the artworks are acrylic paintings and some are cyanotypes, but all of the pieces capture some aspect of desert landscape.

Often when you go to art shows an artist has chosen a single medium to work in and the works are all paintings or all sculptures or all photos, etc. But I like to mix it up a bit. There are a variety of mediums that I like to use. And I find different mediums communicate different things. For example, the acrylic paintings allow me to capture the colors of the desert landscape. The abstract style I paint in pulls focus to color and shape rather than hyper-realistic details of landscape that photos can capture.

On the other hand, the cyanotype (always being blue and white) puts the desert scenery in a whole new light. Deserts are known for being brown and tan and orange, the last thing you think of is blue. This is especially true because we associate blue so much with water – the thing most obviously absent from the desert. And so, with cyanotype, rather than the color and shape emphasized in the paintings, the texture of the desert is what is highlighted. The photograph cyanotypes can appear very abstract, which ties them together with my abstract landscape painting style.

Using a variety of mediums also lets me create art on location. Acrylic paintings are difficult to do on site because the paint dries so fast. But cyanotypes can be made directly in the landscape using the very elements that form the desert. By using my on-site cyanotyping technique to make photograms I can capture the shadows of sand and plants using the sun and wind.

Variety of Art

I enjoy different ways of creating. The variety of methods allows me to focus on different aspects of what makes up the landscape. But the real magic happens (I think) when you can see all the art together in a solo exhibition. I may make the work at different times, in different mediums, and from different locations but the common thread is the subject: the desert landscape. When you bring the works together, they talk to each other, forming a bigger picture of the deserts of Utah and New Mexico.

Once the artworks are displayed together you can see similarities and contrasts in the different elements of the landscape. In some pieces, like Cracked Earth you see starkness and drought. While in another, like Life on the Dunes, you see evidence of life and growth despite the harsh climate. The White Sands series of paintings portrays White Sands National Park’s dunes as harsh straight lines – as seen at a distance. While the Coral Pink Sand Dunes shows the smooth-rolling nature of the dunes at the State Park. Then Coral Pink Sands presents a whole new way to look at sand, with the image created by sand itself in the photogram cyanotype. Each of these is a true picture of sand, but each of them brings to light a different aspect of sand and the shapes it can make.

Love of Deserts

Deserts are a place of contrast – between hard and soft, colorful and colorless, bright and muted, vast and narrow, life and death. I love the desert landscape which is why I chose it as the subject of this series of artworks. The desert can be under-appreciated at times, perhaps not meeting common ideas of what beauty is, or only having the grand scenic vistas highlighted. But there is much beauty to be found in the unaccustomed spaces of the desert – if you look for it. When you do look you see stories of perseverance, hardship, adaptability, warmth and even joy.

Maybe you love the desert too, or maybe you haven’t spent much time in the desert. Either way you have a chance to experience the varied beauty of the desert through my art. If you are in Utah this summer stop by the Bountiful Davis Art Center (it’s free!) and see my show, on display until July 16th. (By the way, the artwork in the show is actually for sale, just speak to the center if you would like to make a purchase.)

A Milestone

It has been a personal milestone to have my first solo exhibit. Getting to stand in a room where my art is on every wall, pieces happily conversing with one another, coming together to tell a visual story of the desert – it’s absolutely fantastic! I can’t wait to apply for more solo exhibits, to create other bodies of art where multiple pieces can come together to take over a space, and to share my vision and voice on different themes.

Art is a way for me to express my thoughts, ideas, and imagination. To go and see any artist’s work is to see the world through their eyes, a different perspective from our own. Whether it’s a group show or solo exhibition, go see and enjoy art!

Yours truly,

Amanda Porter

(Exhibiting Artist)


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