Utah Tech University Students Receive Harry Bertoia Foundation Scholarship

By Jake Harber

Two of Utah Tech’s art students recently received the Harry Bertoia Foundation Scholarship, earned through a combination of artwork, filling out applications, writing essays about the art, and letters of recommendation. The Harry Bertoia Foundation is a private charity that serves to educate the public about the late artist Harry Bertoia and modern art. Bertoia is best known for his architectural sculptures and furniture that he designed and constructed. The scholarship is offered to two qualified students to enable attendance at a Utah college.

Jocelyn Fenus and Abigail Urich, both students attending Utah Tech University, received the Harry Bertoia Foundation Scholarship.

Urich, left, and Fenus, right, both received the Harry Bertoia Foundation Scholarship.

“The College of the Arts is honored to have the Harry Bertoia Foundation recognize two very deserving students,” said Jeff Jarvis, Dean for the College of the Arts. “Mr. Bertoia’s legacy and contribution to the art world live on through this contribution and through the talented student artists receiving it.”

Fenus, a mother of three and sophomore at Utah Tech, grew up in Provo, Utah, and eventually moved east to Vernal, living there for around 10 years.  After moving to St. George to be closer to family, Fenus began pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Utah Tech. Fenus submitted two pieces in the Utah Tech Student Art Show, a still life watercolor of flowers titled “2:23 am” that won second place in Watercolor and was one of the pieces Fenus submitted for the scholarship, and a sculpture of a chicken sandwich titled “445 cal., 1 Sandwich” that won first place in Sculpture. After Utah Tech announced that it had received approval to offer a Master of Fine Arts degree for fall of 2025, Fenus decided that earning a master’s was her ultimate goal.


(Image: Fenus with Celia Bertoia, daughter of Harry Bertoia and founder and director of the Harry Bertoia Foundation)

“The Master of Fine Arts degree is unique because it will include classes in business and entrepreneurship and teaching along with the studio art emphasis that is ‘the norm’ for a Master of Fine Arts,” Alex Chamberlain, associate professor of art and art department chair, said. “We’ve learned that a large percentage of our graduates end up teaching at some point, hence the teaching classes, and many artists are self-employed, hence the business content. We feel like this MFA will be a unique and valuable offering to students seeking a terminal degree in art who also want the figurative emphasis that UT already offers along with preparation for the ‘real world’ in which teaching and self-employment are often realities of life as a working artist.”

Urich, who is set to graduate in fall of 2023 and is from Fresno, California, received a first-place prize for her oil painting titled “Should I Apologize?”. Urich has a background in theatre but found a passion for art in college, only then realizing she was skilled and talented at art. Urich found herself at Utah Tech after a friend had a room open up and she researched and was impressed by UT’s art department. Urich likes how art is both challenging and fulfilling, and enjoys thinking about things that socially, politically, and emotionally affect her, then putting an artistic twist on it.


With her piece “Should I Apologize?”, Urich drew on personal experiences from her time working in the costume department in theatre and how women tended to apologize when having their measurements taken. Urich used this as inspiration for her piece, which is a self-portrait of herself without clothing and wrapped in measuring tapes with a height and weight measurement on the side. This was one of the pieces that Urich submitted in order to receive the scholarship. Urich was nearly overwhelmed to receive the Harry Bertoia Foundation Scholarship, expressing how much she loved Bertoia’s explorative, industrial art and organic and futuristic designs. With Bertoia’s work, Urich realized that one doesn’t have to find their niche in art, they can do anything and everything, just like Bertoia.


(Image: Urich with Celia Bertoia)

“Art is anything you want it to be. For me, personally, it needs to bridge lives together, whether it’s through empathy or shared trauma or experiences. That’s what art means to me, but if that’s not what it means to you, that’s okay!” - Abigail Urich

For more information about Utah Tech’s art department, please visit art.utahtech.edu.