salt 4: Xaviera Simmons

salt 4: Xaviera Simmons

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Xaviera Simmons
November 10, 2011
salt 4: Xaviera Simmons

November 18, 2011–February 26, 2012


Utah Museum of Fine Arts
The University of Utah
410 Campus Center Drive
Salt Lake City, UT  84112

salt (sôlt)
1. A colorless or white crystalline solid used extensively in ground or granulated form as a food seasoning and preservative.
2. An element that gives flavor or zest.
3. Sharp, lively wit.
4. A mineral sharing definitive characteristics with Utah’s capital city.


The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) is pleased to present salt 4: Xaviera Simmons, the fourth project in the Museum’s series of exhibitions showcasing innovative art from around the world. salt aims to reflect the international impact of contemporary art today, forging local connections to the global, and bringing new and diverse artwork to the city that shares the program’s name.


Xaviera Simmons’s photographs oscillate between the real and the staged, between the past and the present. Re-imagining collective mythologies and memories, her work generates new narratives, which often take open-ended and non-linear forms. Simmons was trained as a photographer, but her practice extends to include sculpture, installation, performance, video, and sound art.


In Simmons’s photographic work, landscape plays a central character; it is laden with myth, embedded with histories. The landscape harbors the stories of other figures—travelers, wanderers, migrants, and nomads.  Her characters appear uprooted, indefinitely situated between departure and arrival. They invoke a state of being between past and future identities, a state of being outside the established order—which is to say, a state of possibility. Sometimes Simmons employs models to play the characters in her photographs, but often she performs these roles herself.


salt 4: Xaviera Simmons will feature a series of large-format photographs as well as an expansive wall-bound sculpture comprising hundreds of pieces of locally-sourced wood, each one bearing words and phrases painted in bold lettering. These wooden pieces suggest vernacular signage, but the words they carry are more broadly evocative, culled from notes, travel journals, film dialogues, news articles, folklore, and poetry, among other sources.  The piece conjures a landscape akin to those depicted in Simmons’s photographs, if through different means.


Organized by UMFA chief curator Jill Dawsey, the fourth salt installation opens on November 18, 2011 and will remain on view through February 26, 2012 in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building at the University of Utah. The exhibition will be located in a newly designated salt gallery on the UMFA’s second floor, and will open in conjunction with the debut of an adjacent permanent space for the Museum’s growing modern and contemporary art collection.


Xaviera Simmons was born in New York City and currently lives and works in New York and Paris. She received a BFA in photography from Bard College in 2004, after spending two years on a walking pilgrimage retracing the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade with Buddhist Monks. Simmons completed the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in Studio Art (2005), concurrent with a two-year actor-training conservatory with The Maggie Flanigan Studio (2006). Major exhibitions and performances include The Museum of Modern Art, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; The Studio Museum In Harlem; The Nasher Museum Of Art at Duke University; The Sculpture Center, New York; and The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. Simmons is a recipient of The David Driskell Prize, a Jerome Foundation Travel/Study Fellowship, and an Art Matters Fellowship, among others. She is one of three 2011-2012 Artists In Residence at The Studio Museum In Harlem, and she will travel to Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2012 as part of The U.S Department of State’s smART Power Initiative.


Press contact:  Shelbey Peterson, UMFA Public Relations and Marketing Associate,[email protected]


Utah Museum of Fine Arts


Museum hours:
Tuesday–Friday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wednesdays 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Weekends, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays.




Image above:
Courtesy Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, NY.



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Utah Museum of Fine Arts
November 10, 2011

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