Since March, the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City has displayed paintings, sculpture, and other art from members all over the world as part of their 6th International Art Competition. The theme for the event which ends September 1 has been Latter-day Saints Yesterday and Today; Beliefs, History, Life. It is not only a rich and textured outpouring of talent, but also of faith.

What makes this annual competition so significant is that it encourages artists whose work expresses their deepest spiritual yearnings-who may not otherwise find a ready place for their work in a world of secular art.

Meridian would like to invite our readers into the gallery by clicking here . The first screen you come to will invite you to choose your connection speed-either modem or broadband. From there you will be treated to art that has been selected from 700 entrants on a wide variety of subjects about religious experience. The exhibit contains 171 pieces by Latter-day Saint artists from 30 nations.

To give you a sense of the visual delight you will find inside, this page in Meridian features three of the favorite pieces of art from the exhibit. These were chosen by the visitors to the museum who cast 3,000 votes in the last four months.

Receiving the $500 cash awards were Michael Malm, Wellsville, Utah, for his oil painting Peace, Not As the World Giveth; Don Christensen, Salem, Oregon, for an oil painting titled Called to Serve; and Liz Lemon-Swindle, Orem, Utah, for her oil painting Trust in the Lord.

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This is the second major award that these artists have received in this exhibition. All three were chosen by the exhibit jurors in March to receive Merit Awards.

Malm’s painting depicts one of the five wise virgins from the parable in the New Testament who came prepared with oil in her lamp to the wedding feast. The flame from the lamp creates a dramatic lighting effect on the face of the woman and throughout the painting.

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Christensen’s painting is about Latter-day Saint missionary work. It portrays a young missionary standing in front of a mirror putting on a necktie. His reflection shows him wearing a suit of armor or the armor of God referred to in the scriptures. Jesus Christ is also seen in the mirror tenderly watching over the missionary.

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Lemon-Swindle’s work portrays the woman in the New Testament who touched the robe of Christ in hopes of being healed. In the Bible story, Jesus sensed what had happened and turned to look at her. Lemon-Swindle’s painting captures the moment when their eyes meet.

Runners-up in the balloting were Phil Thomas, Manson, Washington, whose triptych style painting High on the Mountain Top heralds the coming forth of the gospel to the world; Walter Rane, Salem, Oregon, who captured a moment in the life of a newborn baby as it receives a priesthood blessing in a work entitled Bless Them in His Name; and Naomi Harper, Carmichael, California, who created an image entitled The Face of Africa by assembling hundreds of tiny photographs together in a digitally arranged collage that forms a portrait of Christ.

Other favorites of summer visitors include Elizabeth H. Jackson: Pioneer Mother by Megan Rieker; Condolence by Patrick Devonas, Ewing, New Jersey; Why Seek the Living Among the Dead by Jan Astle, St. George, Utah; and Fisher of Men by Del Parson, Cedar City, Utah.

Also ranking high in the informal poll were First Vision, Kraig Varner, Lehi, Utah; Wherever He Leads Me, Greg Olsen, Provo, Utah; The Truth Revealed, Jeronimo Lozano, Salt Lake City, Utah; Becometh as a Child, Julie Rogers, Kanab, Utah; Dignity and Majesty, Rose Datoc Dall, Ashburn, Virgina; Mormon, Eric Wilson, Sandy, Utah; and Mother of All Living, Jed Thomas, Salem, Oregon.

The international art competition is popular with museum visitors because it features a wide range of art subjects and styles. Visitors have enjoyed the process of selecting their favorite work of art. According to exhibit curator Robert Davis, nearly every one of the works in the exhibit received a vote.

“It has been interesting to see that this year’s Visitors’ Choice winners were also three of the favorites originally selected by the formal jury,” Davis said. “Usually our visitors pick a different slate of winners.” Davis said that the “top 20” list of favorites selected by visitors included nine of the original 26 winners in the formal jurying that took place when the exhibit opened.

2003 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.