Artist seeks to evoke Meaning at Gallery East


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In the USU-CEU Gallery East’s February exhibit, Finding Meaning, Salt Lake artist Joshua Luther goes beyond what many visual artists intend for their works of art. He hoped to establish an interpretive dialog between the work of art and the viewer.

Based on what some art theorists call semiotics, Luther presents his work in a way that is intended to connect the viewer with the meanings behind the symbols or denotations the visual images signify. “My work addresses the construction of meaning through language and symbols” says Luther. “I explore the relationship between meaning and the symbols (signifiers) that have been attached to that meaning. In my work, I play off this arbitrary relationship.”

“One way I explore this relationship,” Luther explains, “is through the analysis of the signifiers’ physical properties. There can be a large disassociation between meaning and the way it is physically manifested. This creates a provocative dialogue between the meaning associated with its signifier, and the means by which that signifier was created.” This relationship between signs and the things to which they refer is not simply derived out of a vacuum. It is influenced by social and cultural constructs.

Luther further explains, “We place values onto meaning according to our morals and worldview. In a satirical way, I quantify these values with absurd and arbitrary modes of measurement. For instance I could use units of measurement, such as inches and pounds, to play off the notion of visual weight. Within this model the heavier and more transcendent the meaning, the further it’s disconnected from its mundane signifier, and thus a further disconnection from the physical world is established.”

“Another way I critique meaning is through the processes of perception. The empirical world is subjected to our frames of reference. Reality can be hidden from the viewer. I present obstructed visual information in order to play off the notion that something may be in the way between us, and the ultimate truths.”

Gallery East director, Noel Carmack, is delighted to have Luther’s work at the gallery. “It is my hope that when gallery visitors are introduced into the realm of semiotics and the phenomenon of visual signifiers through Luther’s work, they will have an enlightening experience.”

Luther is from the Central Coast of California, but grew up in Northern Utah. He received a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Utah State University in 2002, having studied painting under professors Greg Schulte and Christopher Terry.

He further explores printmaking in graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln under renowned master printmaker Karen Kunc. During the course of his graduate studies, Luther began to investigate the realms of epistemology and linguistics within his work. He received his master of fine art’s degree from the UNL in 2005.

After graduate work, Luther moved to Salt Lake City. In furthering his thesis on perception and reality, Luther works with digital media, including the vast and ever evolving world of the Internet. Through this relatively new technology, many issues of art making can be reintroduced, such as the ready-made and objectivity. Luther lives in Salt Lake City with his wife Angelee and two daughters Darby and Klee. Examples of his artwork can be seen at

Luther’s exhibit, Finding Meaning, will be exhibited from Feb.14 through March 3, 2011. The gallery is open Monday through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. An opening reception will be on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, from 7-9 PM. The gallery is free and open to the public during the academic year.

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