Twenty years on, Spy Hop is growing up

How does a hip youth arts agency stay digitally relevant as it enters its third decade? By Ellen Fagg Weist | Photography by Keith Johnson In the grand tradition of indie bands, Sincerely, The Universe found inspiration for its name from graffiti scribbled on a bathroom stall.  The name suited a band of musicians thrown together in Spy Hop’s after-school …

Meet the Utah artist crocheting her way to a new life

Winning a state competition offered Carole Alden the hook for a life breakthrough. By Ellen Fagg Weist Last year, when Carole Alden heard an announcement over the prison loudspeaker that she had a phone call, she was worried. Something must have gone wrong, she assumed. In prison, few inmates receive phone calls unless something was terribly wrong. Alden began worrying …

Ceremonial Altar

Rediscovering cultural heritage, one seed at a time

By Ellen Fagg Weist | Photography by Todd Anderson First came the blessing of the seeds. On a dramatically overcast spring evening, Mayan artist Maria Elena Ku’lub Gomez offered a prayer in her native language, Tzeltzal. Her words were infused with the smoky scent of copal tree resin burning over a ceremonial corn-studded altar incorporating 13 seeds and flowers. Next …

In three acts: Creating an opera by children

Crafting your own musical stories offers a little bit of everything, arts supporters say, but kids admit it’s a lot of work. By Ellen Fagg Weist | Photography by Todd Anderson Act 1 The first rule of the Opera by Children program is that students, not the adults, do the work. Over one school year, students work with teachers and …

Montezuma Creek Elementary school student in fused glass workshop.

When learning shines through

The art of making fused-glass tiles connects science lessons to real life By Ellen Fagg Weist Like any good art project, the fused-glass workshop at Montezuma Creek Elementary School was anchored in careful planning. Under the direction of glass artist Carrie Trenholm, students first worked out their design ideas on a small square of construction paper. Each class’s art assignments …

Utah Locomotive Atlas

By Michelle James | Illustrations by Kerry Shaw Visiting the Golden Spike National Historic Park is a great way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the meeting of the Union and Central Pacific railroads. It’s also a great launch pad for an exploration of Utah’s dynamic railroad history, which can include historic depots, exhibits of old streetcars, firsthand looks at …

Artist Beth Krensky on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

How a Utah artist found wonder while pushing a handcart

Beth Krensky is inspired to make art out of kites, nightgowns and her cultural memories By Ellen Fagg Weist | Photography (c) Josh Blumental, 2018 Fractured. That’s how Utah artist Beth Krensky felt emotionally. This was a few years ago, when she was burned out from juggling artmaking, teaching and parenting. She had written a book, 2009’s “Engaging Classrooms and …

Poet Paisley Rekdal along the Transcontinental Railroad grade.

In real time: Progress of a (railroad) poem

With sly wit, Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal has been commenting on social media throughout the year she was researching and writing “West,” a book-length poem about the Transcontinental Railroad. Jan. 20, 2018: “This week has been a series of some of the odder requests/assignments: writing for the Journal of Military History, poem solicitation for pamphlet on spiritual practices, a …

Women & Children and the First Transcontinental Railroad

Above Image: Mrs Strobridge entertaining guest in her railroad car, circa 1868, Alfred A. Hart, photographer. Courtesy of Stanford University Libraries. Few women were present during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. This because of wilderness conditions, 19th-century gender roles and biases, economic forces, and state laws that prohibited or discouraged women and children from immigrating.  The women and children …

Abraham Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad

On July 1, 1862 after decades of US congressional debate and disagreement on a Transcontinental Railroad and an appropriate route the road should take, President Lincoln brought the debate to a close and brought the enterprise to life, all with a stroke of his pen. On July 1, 1862, one year into America’s bloody Civil War, President Lincoln signed into …

The Story of Human Capital

What did the tapping of the “last spikes” into the final tie represent? The transcontinental railroad tells a story of human ingenuity and labor. Building the railroad not only required massive amounts of funding but human capital as well. The famous “champagne toast” image at Promontory Summit is one aspect of this story, while the reality is that the building …