It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In a new Jacob Spori Art Gallery exhibit called “Land Marks,” photographer and painter David Belka shared his interpretations of beauty as seen in man-made and naturally occurring landmarks. Belka, a BYU-Idaho Art Department faculty member, shares the inspiration behind the new display, featuring photography and paintings using natural and man-made marks on the earth’s surface. 

“As I thought about it, art is a process of making marks. Whether you’re doing a painting or a drawing, a photograph, there’s marks being made on a surface … And, I became fascinated with artwork that was done of the land, making marks on the land instead of on a canvas or on a piece of paper of something,” he said. 

Belka sorted the art and photography into three “land mark” categories based on the way they were made — marks made intentionally to function as art, marks made as a result of human interaction with landscape and marks created through nature processes or naturally occurring in the land.  

Several of the photographs displayed in the gallery were taken of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels at Sunset in Box Elder County, Utah. The images depict the sun setting through industrial-sized concrete cylinders. The placement of these tunnels is significant because the sun will only rise and set through them during the summer solstice. Belka pointed out that the holes seen on the sides of the cylinders also align with the starlight from certain constellations. 

Belka shared how lighting is a critical component to a beautiful photograph even if all other elements are precisely set. Camera lenses also have an impact on the quality of the final image. In addition to the featured photography, the upper level of the exhibit features Belka's original paintings of landscapes. He hopes viewers feel a part of the place or landscape depicted in each art piece. The gallery is free to the public and will be open through December 15.