Alumni News

A Couple of Artists

Married couple Lance and Jacqui Larsen.
Lance and Jacqui Larsen (poet and painter, respectively) have been collaborating artistically for more than three decades. Photo by Suzette Anderson.

In the produce section of a local grocery store, a stranger once approached the Larsens: “You’re the art couple, right?” Lance E. (BA ’85, MA ’87) and Jacqui Biggs Larsen (BFA ’86, MFA ’88) looked at each other and shrugged: “I guess so.” Which is to say, Jacqui creates paintings and collages, works that have appeared in literary journals and in exhibits across the country, and Lance, chair of the BYU English Department and former poet laureate of Utah, writes poems that have been collected in five volumes, including most recently What the Body Knows (University of Tampa Press, 2018).

The Larsens have been artistically collaborating for more than 30 years, first as BYU graduate students in the 1980s and lately in poetry books and joint art shows. When asked, “Why art?” Jacqui says “creating art is like being alive twice.” Lance quotes the poet Charles Simic, who describes poems as “other people’s snapshots in which we recognize ourselves.” Below are three of the Larsens’ works: Lance’s poem “The Shapes Sadness Can Take” and Jacqui’s paintings A Love Story Tilted and Pandora’s Dogs.

Painting of a house with threatening clouds above.
A Love Story Tilted, by Jacqui Larsen, 2016, 48″ x 48″, oil, acrylic, and collage on canvas.

The Shapes Sadness Can Take

By Lance Larsen

A boy on his back staring past smokestacks

wants the one white cloud to look like the state

where his father was born, then the town

that swallowed his mother following the divorce,

but the cloud wants only to resemble what passed

through it once. Not a jet which is a knife

tricked out with speed. But a flock of pigeons,

one body and many, a floating room filled

with air and algorithms and crooked weather,

a forgiveness of wings, like God thinking.

Painting of a box and dogs coming out of it.
Pandora’s Dogs, by Jacqui Larsen, 2010, 24″ x 21.5″, oil and collage on panel.

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