Craft & Material Studies


Erika Church

Katherine W. Dumke Fine Arts & Architecture Library of the Marriot

Digital Collections Specialist

Many artists struggle to balance their time between the creative and business aspects of their craft. Other than through shows and exhibitions, few opportunities exist for artists to share their talents with broader audiences or to experience the work of their contemporaries.

Determined to find a solution to these challenges, organizers at the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library are harnessing the potential of technology to develop a rich, detailed resource, the Utah Artists Project (UAP), which provides biographical information about the state's prominent visual artists and features a quality image database.

"Because the UAP is an active archive, I am not only researching the history of Utah art, but also connecting and recording current work across the broad spectrum of Utah's art community," said Erika Church, who supervises the project. "I enjoy the connection with the art community and community at large. Best of all I am working with a venue that makes this information available to a global community."

The tasks associated with overseeing the UAP are part of Church's role as a digital collections specialist at the Katherine W. Dumke Fine Arts & Architecture Library in the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. She is responsible for managing content, cataloguing, and collecting information. As part of the collection, each artist has a page of biographical information and photos; an artwork page featuring images of their works; an archive page with information about archived images and related documents available in the Marriott Library's special collections; a page listing books, magazines, and newspaper articles with information about the artist; and a page listing ephemeral resources (hard copies of printed material) housed in the Fine Arts Library collection about the artist.

In addition to connecting with and researching artists, Church must stay on the leading edge of technology and copyright law.

"Technology changes so quickly," she explained. "To maintain the archive I have to keep up on the latest formats and programs and make sure that the archives are properly stored so they can advance with the technology.

"Copyright and permissions are the other major challenge. The archive features digital images of almost 370 artists at this time and is on track to expand by the end of this year. It is so important to keep up on current copyright, intellectual property, and permissions laws in order to protect the artists, estates, and ourselves."

The opportunity to work with integrated technology in an arts related field came as a result of Church's combination of education, skills and experience. Prior to earning a master's degree in fine art with a focus on intermedia and sculpture, Church obtained her undergraduate degree in crafts with a focus in metals from CCS.

"CCS laid an incredible ground work for me. I found an active arts community in what was at the time a two-block campus. There was a free exchange of information and ideas, collaborative work among the different disciplines, and a place that fostered individual expression. CCS is the guide I use when envisioning any exchange in a creative community. Many of my instructors impacted my experience in Detroit."