Local Artist | Trent Alvey

2/16/2012 | Cody Derrick
Marcus MacDonald

I spent a lucky afternoon with local artist, Trent Alvey; it was inspiring and delightful to hear someone speak so unabashedly about her work and passion. She's an unusual artist, most certainly, making me eager to get the inside scoop behind her works. Her process in print: Trent travels the world, finds innovative ways to uncover patterns and frequencies around us, then brings her discoveries to our ears, eyes, and hands. But even that's too much of a simplification. She's described her art as 'the vehicle used to explore scientific and cultural curiosities'. She manages to speak to an unfiltered audience, perhaps because she's fusing science and art so beautifully with an interesting combination of mediums. What intrigued me most about Trent, however, was her own fascination at the possible outcomes of her work.

What inspires you as an artist? Willem de Kooning said he occasionally caught a momentary glimpse of the real state of things. I think that's how an idea starts...as a glimpse, and then it may visit you again, until you finally allow it to form into a question or concept.

Which of your body parts is your favorite? No favoritism. I like it all integrated. That way, if something gets injured, the whole body works to repair it.

Help us understand the pattern[s] in your art: I continue to see collective patterns and frequencies that describe everything. I am recording my slipping glimpses, my observations of the world, and its interconnected systems, using objects, marks, sound, light and experimentation.

Do you have a hidden talent? Yes. I have the God-given talent of being a fabulous parallel parker. Also, I can stand on one leg, Shiva-style, for quite a long time in meditation.

What book[s] are you reading right now? Charles Bukowski's big book of poetry, Pleasures of the Damned, and Haruki Murakami's, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a collection of short stories. I use Bukowski's poems like the "Tao de Ching". I can randomly select a poem every morning as inspiration for the day [like I used to do with the "Tao"], but then I realized that I get more solace from Bukowski.

Is there something you're looking forward to? Yes. I'll see my new grandson in CT this March, then I'll continue on to Botswana, Africa. I've had the most incredible opportunities to spend time with wild animals; grizzly bears in British Columbia, rhinos in Namibia, elephants in Botswana. My husband founded a small, non-profit called Round River Conservation Studies. It's based in Salt Lake City, but we work in many different places.

What is your favorite medium? Anything that I can find in abundance. Mirror glass (see "Pink Process"); paint, of course; found objects, such as sticks, iron, or rope; and, as excerpted from my artist statement, "Observing and investigating phenomenon” Light, Sound, Color Form and Periodicity. This is how I describe my work."

When you close your eyes you travel to... some simple, quiet place on my hillside in Emigration Canyon where I walk often. Nothing exotic, just a very familiar, wild place.

Who or what inspires you? The Blue Mountains Walking. Have you read Gary Snyder? Also trees, bushes, rocks, sky, animals, the interconnectedness of life, and everyday things.

In all your travels, why Salt Lake? I was born in Utah and I love it, especially since I can leave often and come back.

If you owned Salt Lake City you would... tip it upside down and shake it.

Do you have an animal spirit? Meerkats are pretty awesome.

How do you view success, and how do you strive toward it? I'm trying to learn NOT to strive. It is a very hard thing to do; I've been working on it for years. I find that the outcome is so much better when you don't try too hard...it's less self-conscious and overworked.

How do you stay healthy? By NOT attaching myself to certain outcomes. By reminding myself to be non-judgmental, and allowing myself to see the other person's perspective. Then I like to hike up my mountainside. I live in Emigration Canyon and many mornings I walk the same hillside to see familiar bushes, rocks, grasses and skies...moose, deer, elk and coyotes. This walk is my meditation. It frees me up for the day, forces me to breathe, and see the bigger landscape within myself.

What do you love about your life? Well, as we talked about, I can't wait to get to my studio each day. I love that I can investigate life through my art and travel. With art as the vehicle, I can incorporate science, spirituality, physics and metaphysics. I can experiment with processes, concepts and slipping glimpses.

Talk about "creative energy". Where do you get yours? What does it look/feel like? Creative energy is just energy. It is all around us. Neutrinos are little cosmic bundles of energy that rain down from space, travel through our bodies and our planet everyday, then go back up into the cosmos each night. You get energy from your friends, acquaintances, loved ones and your work/art. Life is just a big cauldron of energy, changing forms and swirling around the surface of the planet. All you have to do is open yourself to it.

**Watch for Trent's Synchronicity art/science demonstration at The Leonardo during the Utah Arts Festival in June. She'll investigate the city creeks, their origin, path to the city and where they end up, utilizing GIS mapping. Then, she'll have a hands-on experiment with water and metronomes, demonstrating synchronicity. The project will be a metaphor for synchronizing a large non-linear system "our local creeks” with our own awareness of the life-giving substance....a project to honor water.

Trent Alvey


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