Salt Lake City, UT
Céline Downen pieces together community voices with elements of her natural surroundings to create a sense of place. Her artistic process can be summed up in three words: gather, piece, and stitch. Gather represents the collecting of materials, piece is the various processes used, and stitch is the end result, how everything comes to fruition.
Trained as a photographer, Downen also explores mediums such as printmaking, book arts, and sculpture. She is UMOCA’s first Educator-in-Residence. Downen grew up in Salt Lake City and moved to Evanston, IL when she was eleven. She graduated with a B.A. in Photography from Columbia College in 1996, returning to Utah in 2006. In 2016, she completed an MFA in Community-Based Art Education at the University of Utah, where she currently teaches classes in the art education program. She is also the director of community outreach for the Downtown Artist Collective.
I focus on making art using accessible processes that incorporate elements from our natural surroundings. The main mediums I work in include cyanotype; simple, low-tech screen printing; linoleum printing; vegetable stamps; and textiles, including quilting and natural dyeing. Students will learn, for example, that yellow aspen leaves can be boiled and turned into a vibrant yellow dye, or that okra, when used as a stamp, looks like a cherry blossom. Cyanotype is a very simple photographic process that involves coating a surface (paper, fabric, etc.) with a light-sensitive solution and exposing it to sunlight. I also have strong organizational skills and enjoy the brainstorming process and developing interesting projects that both educate and inspire participants to be creative.