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Intellect

Bringing Provo's biggest ghosts back to life

ORCA project sheds light on mentored learning

  • Every year BYU awards several hundred undergraduates $1,500 for a research or creative project of their own choosing.
  • While the projects span a wide range of fields, they all involve mentored learning outside the classroom. The skills and experience gained along the way open doors to grad schools, employers and entrepreneurship.
  • ORCA is accepting applications through October 28. Click here to apply.

Bryan Hutchison is bringing some ghosts back to life just in time for Halloween. Already he’s revived about 15 of them, thanks to a little funding from BYU.
But these ghosts won’t give anyone a scare. The studio arts major isn’t heading down any haunted paths of horror in his spirited quest, he’s merely digging up old county land records.

Hutchison is interested in ghost buildings.

Having spent his entire life in Provo, the senior has seen a lot of buildings disappear, replaced by new homes, parks or office buildings. And while cities evolve over time and new replaces old, Hutchison said he believes in a sense of place that comes from what once was.

“As people have experiences wherever they live, they develop a sense of home that is attached to the city where they live,” Hutchison said. “In my case, that’s Provo. There are many buildings that have been torn down in my lifetime that I felt some sort of attachment to.”

Hutchison is trying to capture this sense of place with an ORCA-funded art project that combines images of razed Provo buildings with photos of what now stands. He’s also researching the buildings as part of his honors thesis.

For Hutchison, the buildings of attachment include the old Franklin Elementary School on 600 West, Provo Woolen Mills in downtown Provo, and a few small storefronts that managed to last into the 90s.

To recreate their “ghosts,” Hutchison finds film of the old buildings from county land records, blows it up and then uses tracing paper to do a transfer drawing onto current photos of the area.

“It creates a semitransparent visual so it looks like this ghostly, ephemeral image on top of the current building,” he said. “It’s my way of remembering the old while also recognizing the new.”

Thanks to funding from ORCA and mentoring from professor Peter Everett, Hutchison has completed 15 images, measuring two feet tall and two feet wide, which he has already exhibited once at the Central Utah Arts Center.

His goal is to do 50 of the ghost images -- with many of them blown up to 5 by 5-foot canvases -- for exhibits at BYU and elsewhere in the community. His hope is to stir people to think about their own “home” and what that home means to them.

“In the end, as a city evolves, that attachment people feel for the city evolves as well,” Hutchison said.

ORCA grants: What they are and how to get one

Every year BYU awards several hundred undergraduates $1,500 for a research or creative project of their own choosing.

While the projects span a wide range of fields, they all involve mentored learning outside the classroom. The skills and experience gained along the way open doors to grad schools, employers and entrepreneurship. Mentored learning is part of why BYU ranks in the Top 10 nationally in terms of where new Ph.D.s received their undergraduate degrees – and why BYU is a top feeder school for law, medicine and dentistry.

ORCA is accepting applications through October 28. Click here to apply.

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