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They Painted in the Canyons – The First Artists in Utah

Craig Law at the Holy Ghost Panel

Craig Law at the Holy Ghost Panel

Before the first European Americans came to live in Utah during the 19th century; before the first Spanish priests journeyed through eastern Utah in the 18th century; before the arrival 400 years earlier of the Ute People; even before the Pueblo Cliff Dwellers, whose ancestors pushed into southern Utah about 2,000 years ago — before all these humans came to Utah, scattered bands of Archaic Native Americans painted striking human-like figures on canyon walls in Utah and the northern part of the Colorado Plateau.

These paintings in the Barrier Canyon style are Utah’s earliest known art on rock, and some images could date to a period between 8,000 and 6,000 years ago. They Painted in the Canyons shows photographs by Craig Law selected from the archives of the BCS PROJECT — a non-profit organization established to create a photographic inventory of Barrier Canyon-style pecked and painted images.

Craig Law, project photographer, is professor emeritus of photography at Utah State University, and he lives in Logan. Craig’s work is represented by Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake City. In 2008, Craig’s work was recognized by the American Rock Art Research Association with the Oliver Award for outstanding photography of rock art.

David Sucec, project director, is a visual artist, an independent scholar, and a curator who lives in Salt Lake City. In 1991, David was awarded a Utah Humanities Council Research Fellowship to initiate the BCS PROJECT. David is a member of the Utah Rock Art Research Association and the American Rock Art Research Association.

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