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Exhibition Review: Ephraim
Encoding the World and Getting the Joke: Stefanie Dykes at C.U.A.C. in Ephraim

by Geoff Wichert

Printmaker Stefanie Dykes, whose mostly black and white relief prints dating from 2002 till 2005 are on exhibit at the Central Utah Art Center until October 3rd, apparently finds the present (pun intended) easier to swallow when it’s dressed up to look deceptively like the past. One of the more generous artists on the scene today—she can afford to sprinkle visual gems across her outsize images, since she has so many literally at her finger tips—Dykes encodes ideas about the meaning of things she see every day into her antic and energetic depictions as densely as a symbolist; but since she doesn’t expect everyone to guess her visual puns and rapid-fire connections, doesn’t want to leave anyone outside and unable to enjoy her entertainments, and isn’t sure in any event that there really is any meaning behind it all, she makes certain that her constellations of marks look familiar enough to be enjoyed by any reasonably visually literate consumer, whether that viewer penetrates them fully, only a little, or not at all. Hence everyone should be able to enjoy an hour or two spent in her topsy-turvy cityscapes and elaborately decorated interiors. Signs that lead nowhere at least do no harm, and as we learn to decipher them, a process that should be viewed as play rather than work, we will soon find our way via humor and delight to a private corner of the world that has the virtues of a snug cottage: it may not be ours, it may even be utterly strange, but we feel more comfortable there, and perhaps a little less alienated, than we did before we found it . . .

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