May 30, 2019
Writer: Jaime Strobel

 The Jacob Spori Art Gallery at BYU-Idaho opens its new exhibit tonight, May 30. A reception goes from 7-9 p.m.

The title of the exhibit is, “Brush Fire: A Retrospective.” It will display original artwork from two local artists and professors at BYU-Idaho, Rich Briggs and Sally Ellis. They are both retiring from BYU-Idaho after this semester.

Briggs, who teaches ceramics, did not want to give the exhibit a name, such as ceramics and watercolors. Instead, he thought about the different elements of the earth and came up with the name brush fire.

He received a full-time position teaching ceramics at Ricks College in 1997. He completed his master’s degree at University of Idaho.

Briggs loved the transition from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho in 2001. Before it became BYU-Idaho, the goal was to help prepare students for another university, he said. Now he can continue teaching juniors and seniors and help them progress.

He is most proud of his ability to teach a variety of techniques in ceramics. He hopes people can recognize the variety of art when people attend the exhibit.

“I wanted the show to reflect that I do a variety of things and that we show students how to do a variety of things,” he said.

One of the first sculptures people will see when they go to the exhibit was fired in a wood kiln. To make this particular ceramic, wood must be thrown into a kiln every 2-4 minutes, over the course of 18-36 hours, Briggs explained. Students will take three-hour shifts to accomplish this task. The heat of the ash eventually makes a glaze over the piece which gives the sculpture its color.

Ellis, a watercolor artist and adjunct teacher loves painting landscape. She also started teaching at Ricks College in 1997.

A lot of her paintings come from high country in the West such as, Taggart Lake, Big Springs, Taylor Mountain, etc.

She studied geology, astronomy and plant classification in college. A lot of these subjects are reflected in her artwork, she said.

One of her favorite methods of painting is called, plein air painting. She loves sitting in nature and letting it take part in her artwork.

Ellis hopes when people go to the exhibit they will recognize the authenticity of her work.

She remembers a time when she slipped on a rock and her camera fell into the water. When she went to retrieve it, she slipped and the only thing that helped her from falling was the debris underneath her. The painting of those rocks, reminds her of that experience.

“I have a lot of experiences in my paintings,” Ellis said. “There is a story.”

The exhibit will be on display until July 23.