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“Sliced Bread Loaf” by Brad Johnson is part of a new Big Idea project at the Sun Valley Museum of Art called “Gem State.”

The Sun Valley Museum of Art opens a new visual arts exhibition and kickstarted a Big Idea project today. “Gem State” explores the diverse and vibrant geology found across Idaho and the rest of the American West.

Idaho’s nickname, “the Gem State,” is likely a nod to the state’s abundant mineral resources, which include silver, lead and semiprecious and precious stones. SVMoA’s new exhibit and Big Idea project—which includes several other events and programs—combines the geological sciences with the arts, taking a nuanced perspective in analysis and celebration of the West’s ruggedly beautiful topography.

Artistic Director Kristin Poole said themes of time and transition were central to the project’s formulation. During a time of personal and social restructuring, the curators felt that taking a moment to consider time on a geological scale may help provide some important perspective.

“As we experience a time of profound change in our individual lives, there is a value in reflecting on geologic time and in celebrating what those processes have meant for our state,” Poole said. “The artwork, which ranges from sophisticated abstracted paintings and sculptures to the playfulness of a Union Pacific train carrying Idaho landscapes chugging through the museum, promises to delight visitors of all ages.”

The visual arts exhibition portion of the Big Idea project showcases the work of four contemporary artists: Mari Andrews, Blane De St. Croix, Cynthia Ona Innis and Brad Johnson.

SVMoA specially invited Johnson, a multidisciplinary artist, to create a new body of work for the “Gem State” exhibition.

The museum, at 191 Fifth St. E. in Ketchum, is welcoming walk-in visitors Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit svmoa.org/the-big-idea to learn more about the artists, the project and all its associated programs.

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