The nation’s reality is profoundly different than it was six months ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world, and in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, America has witnessed waves of civil unrest across America calling for racial equality.
The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) at Utah State University hopes to engage the community in these issues, ones that have changed our lives in unprecedented ways. A new exhibition, The Day After Tomorrow: Art in Response to Turmoil and Hope, explores how artists have responded to different crises, offering parallels to our own range of emotions and experiences this year. It opens at NEHMA Wednesday, July 1.
The exhibition is divided into three themes. A Better Tomorrow focuses on transcendence, alternate realities, the divine, afterlife and bliss. A Worse Yesterday comprises works of art that address events that have shaken the world and thrown it into crises such as world wars, nuclear proliferation, AIDS, genocide, racism and immigration. Awry Ecosystem focuses on art by artists concerned with the environment and how humans are changing it.
“The pandemic has forced us to consider the longer view, not the shorter day-to-day view we are normally caught up in,” said Bolton Colburn, curator of Collections and Exhibitions at NEHMA, “It is a time to reflect on the past, check up on the present and wonder about the future in a meaningful way. I hope that the artworks in The Day After Tomorrow help guide us on our quest to recalibrate our bearing in the world.”
One of the central galleries will serve as a community response space, featuring rotating exhibitions from Utah artists and an interactive display where visitors can share their own emotional journey through the past months. The first featured artist is a local photographer, Maria Ellen Huebner, presenting her recent portrait porch project of 44 different families living in various parts of Cache Valley.
“I was able to give back to my community the way that I knew how,” Huebner said, “using photography to bring people together, find a narrative and create a dialogue—and all in a short period of time and at a safe distance. My hope is that this work shows how—though we all live and come from different places—we have many similarities that connect us all as people.”
The Day After Tomorrow is largely drawn from NEHMA’s permanent collection and contains over forty living and deceased artists from California, Oregon, Utah and Washington, as well as prior USU visiting professors. Many of these works are being shown for the first time.
Please note that the museum has taken precautions to ensure a safe experience for all visitors and staff, including face masks, regular cleaning, encouraging social distance and limiting the total number of visitors to 30 people at a time. Visitors now have the option to make a reservation for one-hour time slots in advance. To make a reservation, please visit artmuseum.usu.edu/about/visit.