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Katie Paterson at The Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Salt Lake City – The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) series of contemporary art from around the globe restarts today with an exhibition that brings 10,000 solar eclipses to Salt Lake City.

salt 13: Katie Paterson, on view October 27, 2017 through May 20, 2018, presents recent works from the Scottish artist, whose explorations of space and time often use technology to bring together the commonplace and the cosmic. Paterson’s exhibition is the thirteenth in the UMFA’s salt series of contemporary art and the first since the newly remodeled Museum reopened in late August.

The literal centerpiece of Paterson’s show is Totality (2016), a large, rotating ball covered with approximately 10,000 images of historic solar eclipses printed on tiny squares of mirror. The images, recorded by mankind at locations across the planet, span hundreds of years from drawings made in the eighteenth century to early photographs taken in the nineteenth century to the most advanced telescopic images generated today.

The other works on view, Ideas (2014–ongoing), are concise phrases that take shape in the imagination of whoever reads them. They may or may not come into physical existence but can exist as small, silver wall-based word sculptures—which is how they’re rendered in the salt exhibition—or as fully executed artworks enacting the Idea. This semi-poetic language is crucial to Paterson’s practice: Every work she creates begins as an Idea. Ideas describe works that exist, that are yet to exist, or that may only ever exist in the imagination.

Two more of Paterson’s Ideas—Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole) (2015) and Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) (2007)—can be experienced at a one-day-only event, “The Scent and Sound of Space,” on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Details below.

salt is an ongoing program of exhibitions that showcase the work of emerging artists from around the world. salt aims to reflect the impact of contemporary art, forging connections to the global and bringing new and diverse artwork to the city that inspired the program’s name.

The salt series is made possible by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Related Program

Katie Paterson: The Scent and Sound of Space | 10 am–10 pm
Third Saturday for Families: Candle Decorating | 1–4 pm and 5–8 pm
Saturday, February 17 | FREE
Join the UMFA for a one-day-only experience of art making, music, and mindfulness with artist Katie Paterson’s Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole) (2015) and Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) (2007).

Candle burns down over twelve hours and creates a journey through space via scent: each layer of the candle contains a unique perfume that corresponds to the real and projected biochemistry of places throughout the universe, progressing as if taking off from Earth, traveling to the moon, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and, via the stars, into a vacuum.

Earth-Moon-Earth is a performance of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as mediated by the moon. The music was translated into Morse code and bounced off the moon via Earth Moon Earth (E.M.E.) radio transmission. As is typical with E.M.E. messages, part of the information was lost, absorbed, or refracted elsewhere by the moon’s craterous surface. The received message was translated back into a new musical score that interprets the gaps and absences as intervals and rests. A pianist will perform the score as part of the event. (Performance times TBD.)

“The Scent and Sound of Space” will be held in conjunction with a special edition Third Saturday for Families, the Museum’s popular monthly art making program. A candle decorating activity inspired by Paterson’s art will be offered twice, from 1–4 pm (the traditional Third Saturday hours) and 5–8 pm. The event includes free admission to the permanent galleries from 10 am to 10 pm. The Museum Café will offer extended dinner service until 8 pm.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is located on the University of Utah campus in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building at 410 Campus Center Drive. The UMFA’s mission is to inspire critical dialogue and illuminate the role of art in our lives. For more information call (801) 581-7332 or visit

Katie Paterson