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Beth Krensky


Beth Krensky is an associate professor of art education and the Area Head of Art Teaching at the University of Utah. She is an artist, activist and educator. She received her formal art training from the Boston Museum School. She has exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally. She is a founding member of the international artist collective, the Artnauts. Her work is intended to provoke reflection about what is happening in our world as well as to create a vision of what is possible.

She is also a scholar in the area of youth-created art and social change. She received a master’s degree with a focus on critical pedagogy and art education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She co-founded and spent a decade as Artistic Director for the award-winning youth arts/service/action organization, Project YES (Youth Envisioning Social change). Her co-authored book, Engaging Classrooms and Communities through Art: A Guide to Designing and Implementing Community-Based Art Education, was published by AltaMira Press in 2009.


"As an academic, I'm known largely for my scholarly works, writings, and also for my work in the field -- specifically, going into diverse communities and working with children, making art, promoting dialogue and healing. What's fueling my classroom, scholarship and social actions, however, is a very personal and highly material-based studio practice: one in which I internalize the outside forces and inner beliefs that guide me, and transform them into objects. Professors are also practitioners; artists are also activists. I make art because I am compelled to: a reason that I've always felt was the best motivation for creating new forms.

Change—affecting it personally, and socially—is very important to me. Often, I look to ancient sources as my guide for this, in part because they hearken from a time more comfortable with notions of Transformation. I've used wood gleaned from olive groves in Bethlehem to create staffs; I've compounded anointing oil based on the exact components (cassia, myrrh, cinnamon) as laid down in the book of Exodus, and offered it up in hand-blown glass dispensers to exhibition visitors—allowing them to anoint themselves as they see fit. I've made reliquaries of bronze (a material thought to have powerful "memorializing" qualities), and copper (for its "conduit"-like properties between the spirit and material worlds). Modern inventions like the sewing machine, and familiar office-tools like rolling casters, make their way into my sculptures as well. But at their root, these are forms that embody the sort of ineffable sense of 'shift' and internal re-orientation that I seek.

Many of the pieces are small enough to carry on one’s person, and its only in close view that you'll truly get as sense of their presence: the rust on the metal tip of a staff; the hollow crab shells inside a hand-shaped reliquary; the touch of oil-rubbed wood. The tactile is a Formal response to the notion of the personal; materials are latent with message. Hence, I've spent a lot of time researching just what it is they might be trying to tell us; I've learned about early Jewish practices previously kept secret, of mysticism and magic—to the point where my studio practice can almost seem to border on the anthropological. That's an admixture with which I feel comfortable. In many ways I'm a visual archeologist, unearthing fragments of the past, digging up metaphor and parable that I then site into a personal narrative. The only way I can advocate change for Others is to begin with my own practice, put my own self and beliefs on the line. Viewers often respond with intense catharsis to these works, and I welcome that. Through the gentle power of shared emotion, darkness is exposed, and healing is brought to light."

RESUME (click to view a pdf version of the resume)


Dancing the In-Between Space

The Art of Beth Krensky
by Sarah Moyer | photos by Zoe Rodriguez

Beth Krensky has been creating art ever since she could walk. Her work as a child was performative – creating footprint circles in the mud, or walking the line between the waves of the ocean and the sand. Little did she know that she would always be at home in this in-between space. Her work defies traditional categorization. Is she an artist, educator, scholar, activist or ethnographer? “No one knows where to put me, so I get to sort of dance in that in-between space. . . . It’s so comfortable for me to be in that indefinable space,” she says.

>read the full article in the May 2011 edition of 15 Bytes

Featured Artist, Come and Listen, September 2011
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Rasmussen, L. and Odell Usher, L., I am an Artist: Beth Krensky, October 8, 2010
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J. Voloj (December 2, 2009). "Cultural Heritage Artists Project: Beth Krensky." In 2 Life Magazine
>read here