SALT LAKE CITY – Newly created works of art by Latter-day Saint artists in 30 countries are featured in a three-gallery exhibition at the Museum of Church History and Art. The exhibit is made up with selected entries to the museum’s Sixth International Art Competition. The exhibit is free and children and groups are welcome.
Museum director Glen M. Leonard said the competition and resulting exhibit reflects the theme “Latter-day Saints Yesterday and Today: Beliefs, History, Life.” Leonard said a three-member jury selected 171 pieces for the exhibition from 712 entries received last November. The display of paintings, sculpture, textiles, carvings and photographs will be on display seven days a week from 22 March through 1 September.
“The theme for the competition was broad,” Leonard said. “We invited artists to portray a wide variety of subjects of Latter-day Saint teachings and beliefs, historical events and images that depict the gospel at work in individual lives. We were delighted with the quality and creativity of their work.”
Although a majority of entries came from within the United States, the exhibition includes pieces from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the British Isles. Artwork from Canada, Russia, Ukraine, New Zealand, Taiwan and many other countries is being displayed.
The age distribution of artists is likewise broad, Leonard said. It ranges from those in their early twenties to a woman who at age 96 created a skilled needlework of the tree of life. Forty-two percent of the artwork is by women.
According to the exhibit curator, Robert O. Davis, “Latter-day Saint artists were invited to submit their finest artwork that reflects their deep beliefs and commitments. The works express many aspects of Latter-day Saint religious experience.”
“This is one of the finest gatherings ever of artwork with Latter-day Saint meaning,” Davis said. “The artists delivered works that are ambitious, thoughtful, and express their visual content in compelling ways. I am certain this work will find a variety of future uses, including exhibits, publication and other public display.”
“While there are many pieces from artists who as professionals call art their careers,” he said, “there are also works by amateur artists who have produced examples of fervent expression and sincerity. The uniting element in the exhibit is the common beliefs and history the artists have as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Davis noted that artistic styles and media in the exhibit range from tight, detailed illustrative work to compositions that reflect national traditions of folk art. “On display from Nigeria are large native wood carvings,” he said, “while from Latin America are narrative pieces made from hammered copper and tin. Examples from Taiwan are two traditional scrolls in black Chinese ink.”
According to Davis, “Fabric artists have created outstanding quilts, rugs, samplers and knitted works. Some are very traditional while others picture themes and stories through cloth.”
Davis highlighted examples of work by women of Armenian and other descent. “There is an outstanding work in lacquer by Maria Makarova from Moscow, Russia,” he noted. “She created a tableau of LDS Church history using the manner of Russian icon painters.”
The most-represented category in the exhibit is paintings, he said. “There are subdued, evocative landscape works by Wulf Barsch and Bradley Aldridge of Utah, Jed Thomas of Oregon, and Jonathan Linton of New Jersey. All of them reflect religious and symbolical meaning.” Forty sculptures and seven photographs also are on display.
Davis suggested that museum patrons may wish to compare different expressions of a particular theme. “For example,” he said, “a half-dozen works interpret the story of the tree of life found in the book of First Nephi in the Book of Mormon. One artwork contains images of everything mentioned in Lehi’s complex dream while others focus on the tree itself.”
Davis said the exhibit gives special recognition to more than two dozen pieces “that most successfully express their subject content and show great skill and artistic excellence as well.”
In a ceremony Friday evening, 21 March, at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, museum officials will present 20 Awards of Merit of $500 each and 6 Purchase Awards, meaning the artwork has been purchased for the museum collection. The winning entries are identified in the exhibit with special labels. In addition, visitors to the museum will be invited to cast their votes for three $500 Visitors’ Choice Awards to be presented to artists in August.
Leonard said that the museum is already looking three years ahead to the Seventh International Art Competition in 2006. The theme of this competition and exhibition is “Our Heritage of Faith.”
“Once again,” he said, “we are inviting Latter-day Saint artists to develop new art drawn from themes, stories, people, places or ideas found in the history, teachings, scriptures and activities of the Church or in the personal and family life of Latter-day Saints.”
All artists who entered the current competition will receive an announcement by mail later this year and will receive entry forms about six months before the 4 November 2005 entry deadline. Names may be added to the mailing list by calling 801-240-4615 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on the 2006 competition and current exhibit is also posted on the museum’s Web page, www.lds.org/museum.
The Museum of Church History and Art is located directly west of Temple Square at 45 North West Temple Street in Salt Lake City, a half block north of the Temple Square TRAX station. The museum is open 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and most holidays. The museum will be closed on Easter Sunday. Group tours can be arranged by calling 801-240-4615. For recorded information dial 801-240-3310.