Jacqui Larsen, who holds an MFA from BYU, has shown her work across the country, including in the Millennium Arts Center in Washington, D.C. She has won the Utah Arts Council fellowship prize twice, and recently completed an artist residency at the Anderson Center in Minnesota. The recipient of numerous grants and awards, she uses found text, patterns, and images in both her collages and paintings.
Her husband, Lance Larsen, teaches in BYU’s English Department. The author of three poetry collections, he has published poems in New York Review of Books, Paris Review, Orion, New Republic, Poetry Daily, Best American Poetry 2009, and elsewhere. He has received several awards, including a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Once in a grocery store, a complete stranger stopped us in the frozen vegetables aisle and asked, “Aren’t you the art couple?” This current show, Animal Brilliance, is an attempt to answer yes. Though we have colluded and conspired informally for years, this is our first full-scale collaboration. We chose to celebrate animals because we frequently use them in our work—to plumb mystery, to acknowledge the archetypal other, to compensate for the limits of human perspective. What kind of work are we talking about? A resting rabbit that doubles as a subdivision, four or five dogs carrying household objects in their mouths, a dozen birds nesting in a prom dress, a stream of falling cats. Contemporary bestiaries, we might call these pieces, constructed out of paint and collage, made wiser by words and weirder by a healthy dose of surrealism. Upon further investigation, our impulse towards the homegrown fantastic may not be so far fetched after all. From the news a few years back, we recall the tale of Oscar the miracle cat from a Rhode Island rest home, who fell into the habit of curling up with patrons about to die and providing safe passage to the other side.
We hope to provide for our viewers similar moments of emotional clarity, and in the process explore relationships we only dimly intuit: animals as messengers, avatars, rescuers, wild cousins, doppelgängers, joint stewards of this wobbly planet.