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Holladay Journal

Holladay Artist of the Month Connie Borup contemplates meditative states in nature

Dec 10, 2019 12:50PM ● By Sona Schmidt-Harris

Connie Borup portrays water and its multifaceted reflections in “Colmar Shadows.” (Jan Stevenson/Salt Lake City)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Connie Borup can engage in conversation as well as anyone. In fact, as a former art professor at the University of Utah and high school art teacher at Brighton High School and Rowland Hall St. Mark’s School, she commanded classrooms in what she calls her “teacher voice.” Still, there is subtlety in her delivery, and one gets the feeling she hasn’t always been given her due at a cocktail party. One would never know from her demeanor that she was named one of Utah’s 15 most influential artists. But she was. To add to her accolades, she is Holladay Artist of the Month.

She creates eerie reproductions of water and its reflections. “The water that I paint is usually very complex, and I have a lot of patience. I kind of exploit that. I take advantage of the fact that I can stay with it that long,” she said.

“I started doing trees and then branches with no leaves, and then I just kept getting closer and closer. And finally, I'm looking down at the ground and water to see it has so many really interesting visual qualities.”

Borup is a practicing Buddhist. “We talk about what's real and what's not. Is the shadow a real object, or is the object casting the shadow the real object? I just think it’s kind of interesting to puzzle that way, and I'm doing things that are above the water, reflecting on the water and below the water. There's at least three different levels of results that this one object is putting out physically.”

“I don't want evidence of human activity to show in the painting,” she said. “I also don't want an energetic kind of brush work to be there so that the observer is saying, ‘Oh and the artist did this.’ I want it to be a very quiet experience. I want the viewer to feel they are discovering this place on their own and the complexity. I'm hoping it will hold a person's attention and put them more into that meditative, observant state.”

“I grew up in Kaysville, Utah, which was a really rural town when I was growing up,” she said. “So I was used to seeing farmland, but also the Great Salt Lake in the distance was always this horizontal band out there.” 

In addition to a rural landscape, Borup’s time as an exchange student in Germany was life-changing. “That just opened my world in a huge way, and that's where I made the decision. I want to be an artist and a teacher.” 

Her greatest influence was an art history teacher who was very enthusiastic about his subject. “I just thought yeah, I want to do this,” she said. She obtained her BFA in painting and drawing without ever having taken a painting or drawing class in high school.

Borup taught high school art and German for 20 years and then returned to the University of Utah to obtain an MFA in painting and drawing. She completed her career at the University of Utah as an adjunct instructor. Now, for one week a year, she teaches at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

She is affiliated with the Trove Gallery in Park City and Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake City.

In her upcoming exhibit at City Hall from Dec. 2 through Jan. 31, she said we can expect muted colors.

To learn more about Connie Borup, visit her website: www.connieborup.com. If you would like to nominate yourself or another Holladay artist, please email [email protected].