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Jacqui Biggs Larsen

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Jacqui Biggs Larsen

(Syracuse, NY, 1962 - )

From SMA website: As a girl, Jacqui Biggs Larsen rode her bike down to the local strip mall and dug through dumpsters for bits of this and that, which she used to make cards for her family. However, when she majored in art at BYU, she was pushed toward a more academic approach, partly by the structure of the art program, which focuses in the beginning on developing basic skills and a visual vocabulary. In her advanced classes she was dissuaded at times by particular teachers from creating the kinds of works she now creates - a complex combination of collage, montage, and assemblage that generally includes some drawing and painting. Jacqui Larsen says her works are, like many artists', ways to "define the self," to explore who she is. Although her works are Postmodernist (see The Art section, definitions), she says none of the academic work was left behind or lost, just incorporated into the particular kind of work she now does. (She is remembered by classmates as being one of the best draftsmen in their classes.) Her works reflect the complexity of the times, the complexity of women's lives, and in particular, her own complexity. She says she finds "herself exploring childhood, sisterhood, maternity in ways that question western traditions of idealism. By replacing representations of femaleness with images of everyday women, I hope to piece together new myths and narratives." In these ways, Larsen is also a feminist artist, concerned with issues contemporary women face. To create her artworks, Larsen uses "actual artifacts and photographs, torn-up maps, pins, string, casters, quilts, old savings stamps." She believes "these artifacts provide an entrance to her pieces and physically attach them to the here and now." This dual role of the artifacts, being old but in the present, is representative of what Larsen says is "at the heart of our experience - contradiction." We are part earthly creatures and part spiritual, and Larsen "seeks in some way to bring these realms together." Like many postmodernists, Larsen's work is layered with meaning, and although the symbols often have personal meaning, they also are universal enough to allow viewers to understand and to tie the images and ideas into their own experiences. Larsen wants to know why and how she got to be who she is - to be aware of choices and possibilities. Viewers who seek to understand Larsen's work are likely to find themselves motivated to explore and question as well. Jacqui Biggs Larsen's ability to create powerful artworks that provoke us to examine our lives and what they mean has garnered her many awards, fellowships, and grants; most recently, two grants and a fellowship from the Utah Arts Council, and the first place award in the Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art, April 1998.

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