One talented PRSHS graduate has scored the rare opportunity to host her own exhibition later this year at the Logan Art Gallery.
Taijha Utner, 17, won the prestigious Logan Art Gallery Mentorship, which will culminate this October and November in her very own exhibition at the Young People’s Gallery of Logan Art Gallery.
The opportunity stemmed from her success at Artwaves 2020, an art competition for secondary school students of Logan, where she was named the overall winner.
“Art just has a really personal meaning to me in how I express how I feel,” says Ms Utner.
“When I found out I could make it a job, that meant a lot to me, and I hope that this exhibition will be able to make that possible.”
Ms Utner says she likes the idea of following a journey of life theme on her exhibit, but the creative direction of it will become clearer during the mentorship which officially starts later this month.
The sort of work she specialises in is painting and photography. The part she enjoys most about the creative process is seeing her ideas evolve into the final exhibit.
“I absolutely love watching it change from the original idea to the final product,” says Ms Utner. “You start with one idea of what you want to do and then as you’re doing it, you realise things that can change or make it look better.”
That openmindenss will put her in good stead when it comes time to meet her mentor, Logan Art Gallery Coordinator Michael Wardell, who is full of praise for the mentorship recipient after seeing her work at Artwaves the year before.
“There was incredible variety in her work,” he says. “From the photographic work she produced, and then she also produced a painting called Under the Map.”
“And then at the interview, she came across incredibly well with an amazing enthusiasm.
“She really had a passion for wanting to have an exhibition, it was an excitement to her.”
He says that his role will be solely to provide guidance and that Ms Utner has a lot of creative control in the process, adding that the mentorship is a ‘confidence booster’ for artists to keep pursuing artwork even if it becomes subsidiary to other full time work.
As for the range of local art talent coming through the region, he says there has been a marked improvement over the years.
“There’s extraordinary talent coming out of Logan full stop at the moment,” says Mr Wardell.
“When I first came here 8 years ago, it was almost difficult to find a full program of local artists.
“Now, the majority of our exhibitions are by local artists.”
He puts that down to the fact that the gallery has made more of a concerted effort to advocate for art, and also because more artists have moved to the region.