Broaden Your Understanding - The World of Artist James Surls with Jessica Farling

Broaden Your Understanding - The World of Artist James Surls with Jessica Farling Broaden Your Understanding - The World of Artist  James Surls with Jessica Farling

July 9, 20182 min read
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The world of James Surls, where thorny vines walk, molecules spin in space, and eyes embellish petals, is currently on display at the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) with more than 50 works of sculpture and drawing by the award-winning artist.


Jessica Farling, Director of the Southern Utah Museum of Art at Southern Utah University is honored to host such a distinguished artist in southern Utah.

“I hope this exhibition not only inspires and intrigues museum visitors but that it also challenges our ideas of what art is and ultimately broadens our understanding and appreciation of art.”


Nature figures prominently in Surls’ sculptures and drawings. Over the course of four decades, he has developed abstract forms in wood, steel, and bronze that are inspired by flowers, the human body, and rock formations.


“Although much of the work feels of this world, there is work that feels of another world that can only be imagined. Surls finds his inspiration in two worlds: this one (i.e. the physical) and the universe or cosmos (i.e. the mental). The artwork that you see in the exhibition is a result of Surls’ excursions. Through his mind’s eye, he is free to go between the two worlds. As the viewer of his creations, we may find the familiar but in an unexpected or unimaginable way.”


Surls has received numerous honors for his work, including the Texas Medal of Arts Awards in the Visual Arts from the Texas Cultural Trust in 2013, and was named Artist of the Year by the American Institute of Architecture – Houston in 2012. His work has been displayed around the country including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Guggenheim. In addition to major exhibitions throughout the United States, Surls’ large works have been commissioned in Singapore, Houston, New York, and Hollywood.


As the museum director, Farling provides leadership and vision for SUMA as an experiential learning environment with a balanced commitment to education and community. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.


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  • Jessica Farling
    Jessica Farling Director/Curator of the Southern Utah Museum of Art

    Specializing in community outreach and engagement, museum exhibition curation, and collection management

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