The Living Christ: What Think Ye of Christ?
Museum of Church History and Art
Exhibit Dates: 23 September 2000–3 September 2001
Gallery Space: West Gallery
Salt Lake City, Utah
Editors’ Notes: Meridian Magazine has worked with the Museum of Church History and Art in publishing a number of galleries of fine art, including the International Art Competition which centered in the theme of The Book of Mormon and the showcase of two twentieth century photographers. The following exhibit centers in Christ. You are invited to read about the artists and look at the images (click on them to enlarge and enjoy) and feel of the testimonies and feelings of each individual artist.
Special thanks to Museum Curator Glen Leonard and to Ron Read for his untiring efforts in bringing these images to us in electronic format.
Introduction to the Exhibit
Jesus Christ is the center of our religion, and the focus of our faith. The exhibit communicates this concept through visual and symbolic means. The exhibit team has selected thirty-one paintings and sculptural pieces of large size and impressive emotional impact which express the character, nature or message of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
The exhibit does not attempt to give a particular face to the Savior, showing true physical characteristics. Rather, the exhibit is meant to incite and elicit feelings of reverence, awe and devotion about the majesty of the Savior. The artwork chosen comprises a variety of styles and media.
The accompanying texts are scriptural: from the four Standard Works or from the writings of General Authorities. Although one’s individual perspective of Him might be different from another’s (as expressed in the variety of images presented in the exhibit), the message is the same: that He is the very Son of God, who created the universe, intercedes on our spiritual behalf, heads this Church and is the hope of all the world. The works of art selected for this exhibit testify of these truths.
This exhibit incorporates the messages in the new document from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve entitled The Living Christ. The exhibit mirrors the thoughts expressed in this powerful testimonial by visually matching the poignancy and majesty of these important truths. Excerpts from this document are used as individual label texts, and a facsimile of the original document is on display as part of the exhibit. It is near the size of the largest painting in the exhibit; prominent and as forthright as its claims.
General Interpretive Themes
This exhibit itself intends to testify of our collective belief and faith in Jesus Christ. The paintings and attendant texts attest that He was not merely a historical figure who lived two millennia ago, but is a living being, a Deity who cares about us individually and impacts our lives. While these facts are strongly asserted, they are contemplative and subtle enough to invite the patron to reflect on these teachings himself.
Although each work of art has an accompanying label with the artist, title and date-created information, there is no further information describing the picture, nor is there constituent educational interpretation for that picture. Later on in this guide, you will find individual artist and art information intended to be explained by docents to parties interested in specific details.
The premise for this mode of labeling is to symbolically express the idea that the glory-in our lives, minds and hearts and as shown through this exhibit-should be given to the Lord Jesus Christ, the “author and finisher of our faith.” This art exhibit is not meant, as in the antecedent Fifth International Art Competition, to specifically showcase the artists and explain their impetus for creating the work in a particular fashion, style or context. Rather, it concludes through the power and impact of the pieces that Christ lives in very deed, and that thoughts of Him should live within our hearts, thoughts and actions. These ideas are communicated through the artwork as well as the scriptures or quotations from General Authorities.
Artwork as Testimony
The exhibit is entitled The Living Christ: What Think Ye of Christ. Its name consists of two ideas: first, that Christ lives-that He lived before ancient Jerusalem, that He lived and dwelt among men, that He was resurrected and lives now to guide a marvelous work. The second part of the title carries this significant point even further. Not only does Christ live as an existing being who loves us and is concerned about our welfare, thoughts of Him should reside in our hearts and minds. As His followers, our thoughts should portray this belief. How else can we form a life patterned after His than by constantly thinking of Him and His Atonement? The Atonement, as stated by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, comprises the entire mission of the Savior.
Each artist represented in the exhibit is a Latter-day Saint. For each, the process of creating art is a spiritual enterprise. Many of the works were originally created to be entered into one of the Museum’s past five International Art Competitions.
The making of art is, of course, a creative process. Jehovah created the earth, and by creating we share in this process. We must create worthwhile lessons to pass on to our families, neighbors
Exhibit Text and Commentary
(Click images below to see enlargements.)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings.” Matthew 23:37
As the slanting rays of sunlight reflect on the rooftops of Jerusalem, the Savior pauses on the Mount of Olives to ponder the end of his mortal mission which is swiftly approaching. Nevertheless, the piece is filled with hope, for the Savior’s mission was an eternal one and a new day will surely dawn.
O Jerusalem is part of a series of extremely popular paintings on the life of Christ which the artist has produced in recent years. Olsen trained as an illustrator and commercial artist at Utah State University and has received many commissions for his highly detailed works. His wide range of subjects includes Western art, religious and fantasy art, historical studies, portraits, and statements on social issues.
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father – that by him, and through him and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants there of are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” D&C 76:22-24
This impressive sculpture of the Savior serves as a visual reminder of His promise that all “shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection to be raised unto eternal life.” (Moroni 7:41) It represents the resurrected, immortal, and majestic Christ. Sculpted from white marble, the hard surface readily creates an impression of purity, strength, and endurance. In contrast, the flowing details of the robe and the natural rhythms of the hair add a softness that denotes a gentle and sympathetic nature.
John Andelin is a pathologist by profession who lives in Williston, North Dakota. The artist chose marble for this sculpture because he feels it is the perfect medium in which to portray Christ. Inherently, it imparts qualities that are timeless, historic, and significant. Sculpting in marble also produces a unique, valuable, one-of-a-kind image since it is never reproduced in a mold as bronze, plaster, and other forms are. Thus, it ideally represents the only perfect man. In addition, to working with marble, Andelin also excels in carving large sculptures out of wood.
“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until if fell upon me.” Joseph Smith – History 1:16
Reflecting on the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the artist wished to portray the visual impact of the column of light interacting with the stillness of the forest. Not merely reproducing nature, he tried to heighten the symbolical effect of light and darkness by reducing everything to black and white. While Christ is not in view, his power and majesty is clearly evident.
This linocut print on paper was created for the Museum’s Second International Art Competition where it received both an Award of Merit and a Purchase Award. The artist was a former art director and graphic designer for the Church.
“They cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe . . . he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.” 3 Nephi 8-10
In Christ Visits the New World, the artist has painted the arrival of the Savior with great energy and power. The pose of the Savior uses diagonal and swirling lines to communicate the intense emotion imaginable in such a scene.
Rane studied at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles when the school still emphasized anatomy and classical drawing. This early training was invaluable as he began a career in New York City as a free-lance commercial illustrator. Although he found success with commissions from major national publications, he had always longed to paint figurative studies. In 1994 he moved his family to Oregon and began do portraiture, landscapes, and the scriptural studies for which he is becoming well known among Latter-day Saint art enthusiasts.
“And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha . . . and they crucified him.” Matthew 27:33
Christ’s atonement is the central event in human history and crucial in the transformation of mankind from sinners to saints. The artist communicates this message with the following symbols:
- The stark contrast of light and dark colors represents, for the artist, the opposition of good and evil, which Christ’s atonement makes explicit.
- Heavenly light illuminates the Christ and his humble disciples.
- Dark clouds obscure those who crucified Christ and persecuted the Saints.
- Christ stands at the junction of light and darkness and at the center of the composition. This placement symbolizes Christ’s role in mediating mankind’s atonement from sin.
The artist studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden, Germany, where he was born. He was trained in the rich northern Baroque tradition that made dramatic use of light and dark in religious art, of which Christ in Majesty is an eloquent example. Burde was introduced to the gospel following World War II, and immigrated to America in 1952. He lived and worked in Salt Lake City until his death in 1998.
“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46
This small, gem-like painting portrays a Savior deep in thought. He walks alone through a desolate landscape suggesting that he alone may shoulder the burdens of the world’s sin.
The original painting was created by Anatoly Krisochenko and then copied by his sons. These Latter-day Saint artists are from Kiev, Ukraine.
“The tree of life was a representation of the love of God.” I Nephi 11:25
The Tree of Life is included here because it represents the love of God and the path to eternal life through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This exquisite rendition of the tree with shimmering white fruit, is surrounded by a wood frame featuring the sun, the moon, and the stars (the big dipper) of the three degrees of glory.
Although this piece appears three dimensional, it is actually a single sheet of bronze. The artist achieves depth in his work through layers of patinas and polishing. Bennett was offered an art scholarship to BYU, but turned it down to work directly with artists. He apprenticed at Wasatch Foundry and soon learned the skill of applying patinas to bronze castings. He has studied with patina artists around the country and today he is considered one of the finest “patineurs” at work. In addition to running his own patina studio, he also uses his skills to create patina paintings in bronze, a unique art form which Bennett himself developed.
“And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” D&C 88:92
The Savior’s triumphal return to earth in glory to usher in the Millennium is portrayed in this elegant needlepoint tapestry. The artist has combined two symbolic elements to create a powerful statement of her belief. As is common in many folk arts, the image of Christ was adapted from a prominent illustration by Harry Anderson, The Second Coming of Christ, and is the focus of the work. An embroidered border, traditional to Croatian clothing worn at weddings and at Christmas, symbolizes Christ’s millennial identity as “the bridegroom.” (See Matthew 25)
The artist, an LDS convert from Zagreb, Croatia, combined familiar LDS subject matter with traditional Croatian textile patterns to create this work of art. This combination of artistic traditions strengthens, honors, and enlarges both traditions while celebrating the important link between them. The artist, who also has a painting on glass on exhibit in A Covenant Restored, has immigrated to the United States and now lives in Provo, Utah.
This needlepoint and embroidery picture took about six months to complete, and includes 42 different colors of thread and yarn.
“I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, called me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him.” Joseph Smith History 1:17
This charming wood sculpture of the First Vision, was created by a Filipino artist from a village that specializes in wood carving.
“And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with waves: but he was asleep. And the disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” Matthew 8:24-26
This ceramic tile painting portrays the calm of the sleeping Savior, while the tempest rages around their small boat. He Was Asleep was created for the Second International Art Competition and received a Purchase Award.
“The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah.” D&C 110:1-3
In this detailed work, the artist portrays the appearance of the Savior to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. Following a Sunday meeting, Joseph “retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer.” After they rose from their knees, the marvelous vision of the Savior was opened to their eyes. That vision was followed by the appearances of Moses, Elias, and Elijah.
The artist Gary Smith did a number of important portrayals of Church history like this one, before settling into his genre of rural landscapes and scenes.
“And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
In this gentle, intimate scene of the Nativity of the Savior, the artist portrays Mary and Joseph as a German peasant couple in a German barn. This localization of stories from the scriptures to make them more approachable is a long tradition in German art. In this work, as well as many others, the German-born Burde adopted a seventeenth-century German style.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good.” Genesis 1:1-4
Again in Jehovah Creates the Earth, the artist uses a composition of diagonal and swirling lines to communicate the power and majesty of this most important of creative acts. Rane is highly influenced by the great masters of European art and he has adapted this particular technique from the works of Peter Paul Reubens.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” Luke 2:13-14
This work, depicting the Nativity, is influenced by Persian miniatures, sharing with them a style of pattern, texture, color, and view of nature. While the piece appears traditional, it also contains distinctive Latter-day Saint elements, such as angels without wings.
The Nativity was a recurring theme for Luch for more than thirty-five years. This piece was created for the Museum’s Second International Art Competition in 1991.
“Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” John 19:4-5
The artist depicts Christ and Pontius Pilate from below as though the viewer is part of the crowd that is being asked to pass judgement on the Savior. “What think ye of Christ?”
Vincent received a master’s degree in fine art from Brigham Young University and has served on the faculty there as gallery director and as an instructor in drawing. He is particularly adept at portraying the human figure.
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
In this moving depiction of the Last Supper, Christ and eleven of his disciples gather to celebrate the Passover. The shadow of Judas is seen as a fleeting figure shrouded in darkness through the doorway.
“Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King! Triumphant over death, Life thou didst bring,” Hymns, no. 181
In this elegant bronze bust of Jesus of Nazareth, the artist has tried to contrast the peace of the Savior with the uncertainty of this world. The face communicates concern and compassion, while the somewhat disheveled hair reminds us that the world is not always as we would like it.
Price studied at Brigham Young University, Utah Valley Technical College, and the University of Utah. He was particularly influenced by sculptor Stan Johnson and eventually turned solely to the bronze as a medium. He has a studio in Springville, Utah, and his works are widely distributed through out the west, many of them particularly are designed as garden sculpture.
Don’t miss the continuation of this work in: The Living Christ, Gallery 2
Library call numbers are provided in brackets for all books which are in the Museum’s library. The library also has many of the periodicals mentions, including a complete run of the Ensign and Southwest Art from 1980 to the present. Many of the articles cited are available as photocopies in the artist files in the Docent Office.
All Things Testify of Him: Inspirational Paintings by Latter-day Saint Artists. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998. Several of the paintings in this exhibit are featured in this volume (The Well of Life, Gethsemane, Ten Lepers Healed, O Jerusalem, and The Greatest of All, as are other works by featured artists (Wilson Ong, Ron Richmond, and Gary Smith). [M281/A416/1998]
Museum of Church History and Art. Images of Faith: Art of the Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995. Most of the artists included in the exhibit are featured in this volume. [M281/I31/1995]
Oman, Richard G. “‘Ye Shall See the Heavens Open’: Portrayal of the Divine and the Angelic in Latter-day Saint Art.” BYU Studies 35:4(1995-96): 112-41.
Books and Articles on Artists
Porter, Carole. “Santa Clara Pottery of the Last Supper.” Ensign 22(April 1992): 32-35.
Oman, Richard G. and Doris R. Dant. “Richard Burde: Spiritual Reflections. BYU Studies 34:1(1994): 32-40.
James C. Christensen
King, Heather. “Fantasy Artist: James Christensen.” Salt Lake City 9:3(May-June 1998): 31-33.
“Windows on Wonder.” New Era 19 (Aug. 1989): 44-51.
Winters, Charlene. “Living Left of Reality.” Brigham Young Magazine 50:4(Nov. 1996): 36-41.
Winters, Charlene. “Winged Words: A Portfolio of Paintings and Drawings by James C. Christensen.” BYU Studies 28:2(Spring 1988): 31-46.
Moser, Steve. “A World-Wide Influence.” Summit 6:1(Spring 1993): 8-9.
“Gary L. Price: Lifting the Human Spirit.” This People 15:3(Fall 1994): 40-42.
Moser, Steve. “Gary Price: A Gift of Love.” Summit 11:1(Spring 1998): 6-7.
Swanson, Vern G. “Gary Price.” Southwest Art 21:3(Aug. 1991): 82-87.
Dant, Doris R. “Gary Ernest Smith: Invitation to the Viewer.” BYU Studies 31:4(Fall 1991): 29-30.
Ho, Donna. “Bound to the Land.” Salt Lake City Magazine 1:1(Holiday 1989): 68-70, 104-105.
Pyne, Lynn. “Gary Ernest Smith.” Southwest Art (March 1991): 60-66, 131.
McGarry, Susan Hallsten. “Dealer Dialogue.” Southwest Art (July 1991): 38, 40-41, 43.
Smith, Gary E. American Icons: The Art of Neo-regionalist Gary Ernest Smith. Scotsdale, Ariz.: Overland Gallery of Fine Art, 1994. [759.13/S648a/1994]
Smith, Gary E. Form, Color & Symbol: The Art of Gary Ernest Smith. N.P.: N.P., 1983. [759.13/S648f/1983]
Smith, Gary E. Journey in Search of Lost Images: Neo-regionalist Gary Ernest Smith. N.P.:
Ray E. Johnson, 1989. [759.13/S648j/1989]
Swanson, Vern G. “Gary E. Smith: Rooted Substance and Surface.” Southwest Art (August 1984): 43-48.
Boren, Karen. “‘I Must Paint’: Minerva Teichert’s Mission to Tell the Pioneer Story Through Art.” Pioneer (Spring 1996): 16-19.
Cannon, Elaine A. and Shirley A. Teichert. Minerva!: The Story of an Artist with a Mission. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997. [M270.07/T262c/1997]
Dant, Doris R. “Minerva Teichert’s Manti Temple Murals.” BYU Studies 38:3(1999): 6-44.
Davis, Robert O. Rich in Story, Great in Faith: The Art of Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert. SLC: Museum of Church History and Art, 1988. [M281/M986ri/1988]
Eastwood, Laurie Teichert, ed. Letters of Minerva Teichert. Provo: BYU Studies, 1998.
Johnson, Marian Ashby. “Minerva’s Calling.” Dialogue 21:1(Spring 1988): 127-43.
Johnson, Marian Ashby. “Minerva Teichert: Scriptorian and Artist.” BYU Studies 30:3(Summer 1990): 66-70.
Oman, Richard G. and Susan S. “A Passion for Painting: Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert.” Ensign (December 1976): 52-58.
Pinborough, Jan U. “Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert: With a Bold Brush.” Ensign (April 1989): 34-41.
Slover, Timothy. Minerva Teichert: A Mission in Paint. Provo: Brigham Young University, 1988. Video recording. [Mus AV]
Webb, Nancy. “Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert.” Southwest Art (November 1989): 90-94, 171, 174.
Welch, John W. and Doris R. Dant. The Book of Mormon Paintings of Minerva Teichert. Provo & Salt Lake City: BYU Studies and Bookcraft, 1997.
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