Cara Despain - Artist in Residence

Cara Despain

February 25, 2021
The Great Hall

Reflection  | Podcast | VideoPhotos

Cara Despain is an artist working in film and video, sculpture, photography and installation addressing issues of land use, the desert, climate change, visualizing the Anthropocene, land ownership and the problematics of frontierism. She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah (1983) and currently lives in Miami, Florida and works between the two. She holds a BFA from the University of Utah (2006). In 2012, she was selected for the Salt Lake City Mayor's Award in the visual arts, and in 2016 she was selected for the South Florida Consortium Fellowship. Her work is included in Rubell Family Collection and the Scholl Collection, as well as the State of Utah and Salt Lake County art collections.

Recent exhibitions include: it doesn’t look like paradise anymore at Southern Oregon University; FREE!. at Brickell City Center, Miami; Cryin’ Out Loud at the Center for Contemporary Arts Santa Fe, Fringe Projects, Miami, Slow Burn at Spinello Projects, Miami; and No Man's Land at Rubell Family Collection, Miami. In 2014 she was the Art Director for the feature length film The Strongest Man that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2015), as well as A Name Without a Place which premiered at the Miami International Film Festival (2019).


On Thursday, February 25th, 2021, A.P.E.X. Events was happy to virtually welcome Artist in Residence, Cara Despain, for this week’s A.P.E.X. lecture. Despain is an acclaimed artist whose work spans film, sculpture, photography and installation addresses issues of land use, climate change, visualizing the Anthropocene, land ownership and the problematics of frontierism. Despain was introduced by the Southern Utah Museum of Art Director and Curator, Jessica Kinsey.

Cara began her introduction talking about the differences between her hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah to her current home of Miami, Florida as well as the environmental parallels between the two. She showed the audience some of her artwork that is both influenced and created by the environment, including a railroad spike plated in gold, paintings created from the burnt debris of wildfires, and installation videos of the desert landscape. Through examples of film settings and stories of the American Frontier era, Despain talks about how the “taming” of the wild, settlement and resource acquisition changed the landscape and displaced many peoples, replacing an entire notion of and relationship to home with a new one - her mission is to show this impact to people through the various media she creates.

In the last few minutes of the presentation, A.P.E.X. Events Director, Dr. Lynn Vartan, interviewed Cara and asked her a few questions about her artwork and message, with Cara ending on a note of the importance of being respectful to the environment.

by Emily Sexton


Audio Transcript