Exhibit on Womanhood on Display at Church History Museum

Contributed By By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 28 March 2014

“An Angel Watching My LIfe” is featured in the Practicing Charity: Everyday Daughters of God exhibit at the Church History Museum, which can also be viewed online.  Courtesy of Church History Museum.

Article Highlights

  • The exhibit, which portrays the “simple, everyday things that help us come closer to God,” runs through September 14.
  • The museum is open to the public with free admission 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The work that women do every day—simple, everyday things that help us come closer to God—is the subject of the newest art exhibit at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City.

Practicing Charity: Everyday Daughters of God will be on display at the museum through September 14.

The exhibit has two major target groups: members of the Relief Society and the Young Women organization, museum educator Angela Fisher said. She explained that its title is taken from the Relief Society motto, “Charity Never Faileth,” and from the Young Women theme, which includes the statement “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father.”

“So the painting is primarily of women,” Sister Fisher said, “and they are doing things that everyday women do. There are women with children, there are women bringing food to neighbors, giving a hug, holding a cat—simple, everyday things.

Works from three artists comprise the exhibit: Lee Udall Bennion, Brian Kershisnik, and Kathleen Peterson.

“They all have differences in their styles but also similarities,” Sister Fisher said. “Visitors will notice that the style isn’t done in a realism. It’s something known as faux naïve, meaning that these artists have been trained in fine art, but they choose to paint in a different style.”

Explained exhibit curator Laura Hurtado: “It draws from traditions that exist within modern art, like Modigliani or Paul Gauguin.”

She added, “There is a playfulness to the work. It has a flatness that is obvious and dark black lines that are part of this style.

“Consistently throughout the works are women in patterned dresses. The artists spoke to me about the device of using a patterned dress, first to negate a time period so it ends up being just a timeless piece.”

Moreover, patterns in the dresses allow the artist to explore ideas.

“Works, Words, and Thoughts” Courtesy of Church History Museum.

For instance, the painting Student by Kathleen Peterson shows a woman engaged in study and pondering the depths of what she is learning. The pattern on her dress is Greek letters, perhaps playfully conveying the common expression “It’s all Greek to me!” Sister Hurtado explained.

A piece by Brian Kershisnik titled Sleeping Musicians shows musicians engaged in practice, not in the “glory” moment of performing on stage, but rather in the at times exhausting and tedious work of preparing oneself for that moment, Sister Hurtado pointed out.

Another piece by Brother Kershisnik is titled Climbing Mother and shows a group of children engaged in doing just what the title denotes.

“There is this kind of chaotic messiness within it,” Sister Hurtado observed. But it conveys the message that while the mother is caring for her young children, she is being simultaneously watched by angels.

“She is not alone in this process,” the curator observed. Thus it contrasts with other pieces in the exhibit that depict a more placid setting. Each type of art portrays truth in its own way.

Augmenting the exhibit is an activity guide that can help involve visitors more deeply in the art through completing questions in a scripture match and a musical word search. There are also workbooks for Young Women to further the work toward achieving their Personal Progress goals and for Primary-age girls working to attain their Faith in God Awards.

The museum is open to the public with free admission 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.