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Utah artist's 'Mormon Heroin' works come to Orem

Published May 14, 2013 1:06 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

To artist Kent Christensen, sugar in all its many forms is "Mormon heroin."

It's also the basis for his art, which satirizes Mormons' obsession with sweets by using candy, cakes, Jell-O and other sugary treats to recreate personal, religious and cultural symbols.

For example, Christensen has created a canvas depicting Spiral Jetty, Robert Smithson's famous earthwork in the Great Salt Lake, out of salt-water taffy. And he's created a gold-spired LDS temple out of Coca-Cola bottles. (Presumably caffeine-free Coke.)

More than 60 of Christensen's works are now on display at the Woodbury Art Museum in Orem (on the second floor of the University Mall), through July 20. An opening reception is set for tonight, from 6 to 8 p.m.

It's the first solo show in Utah in five years for Christensen, who splits his time between homes in New York and at Sundance. In the last five years, he's had three solo exhibitions in London and one in New York, and has participated in three group exhibitions in the United Kingdom.

Reactions to his work abroad have been fascinating, Christensen said in a press release.

"Here in Utah everyone 'gets the joke', so to speak, but elsewhere it is seen as exotic and mysterious – like a riddle they are very eager to try and solve," he said. "I love talking with people about my work and watching them come to understand something that is really quite foreign, but seems all too familiar to the rest of us."